exit, voice and loyalty

Old college threads.
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theMoMA
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Post by theMoMA » Sat Jan 20, 2007 1:17 pm

Well at least there aren't arrogant, overbearing personalities who go out of their way to get into e-pissing contests scaring people away from this message board...

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summing some things up

Post by BobDole » Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:30 pm

I'm new to online discussions, but this subject is important to me, so please forgive my inexperience.

I have to say that there are a number of statements that have been made here that exemplify what inexperienced (read: undergrad) players/writers/packet editors are arguing against when they say that the questions are too hard. I am going to quote a few of them here (though I am unfamiliar with the standard quote procedure, so bear with me)

on MLK difficulty, Ryan Westbrook said:
I think every tossup answer in the prelims was quite canonical at a fairly low level. Just looking at the number of points certain teams put up confirms this, I think.
I looked at the stats for MLK 2007, and I have to say that when 40-50% of players can't average 10 ppg, there is a problem. When two players each have a personal score that's almost twice that of the third place personal scorer, there's a problem. Entire teams played with no single scorer above 10 ppg. There IS a problem.

However, this is not the main problem.

MLK is an important event in the quiz bowl year. Freshmen learn to write questions, mid-level players learn to edit questions and then we all get to hear and play on them. Coupled with ABD, it's like X-mas in mid-January. When I think about the play this year, this quote is burned in my mind:
Ryan Westbrook said:
Perhaps the lack of powers and the fact that I tend to promote dense, clue-filled, and rather opaque questions that give people a sense of ignorance for a long time often contributes to a greater impression of difficulty when I write stuff.
Welcome to the main problem.

We play this game (presumably) because it's fun. When we get it right, we can be proud, and when we get it wrong, we learn for next time. What, I ask, can be learned from opaqueness and a sense of ignorance? High school (and college) quiz bowl players learn canon not only from classes but by listening to questions and linking certain "triggers" to certain answers. When the question goes dead, and the answer is read, we learn "Ah! This guy I've never heard of wrote that opera I have heard of" or whatever connection is to be made. However, "Ah! This guy I've never heard of wrote that book I've also never heard of" doesn't help.

Is this true?
I'm honestly not sure about the experiences of anyone else, but that's how I've found I learn, and how I've found that I can find real knowledge about authors, historical events and composers. For instance, while writing a question on John Milton, one might ask say the following: "I know he wrote Paradise Lost, but what else?"

Is this healthy?
I really couldn't say, but I think it is natural, and I think it is the best way to keep people interested and having fun.

Ryan Westbrook wrote:
But, it becomes fairly apparent that today's standards really force you to go about 7 lines on most subjects.
...
Hell, once you get that opening clue out of the way - which is probably a quote or minor plot line or anecdote from the book or something like that - you've already eaten up 2 or maybe 2-and-a-half lines.
I'm going to go right out and say that this is bad. Firstly, Clues are clues if you know them, but nothing if you don't. Clue density is essential, and making people sit through tossup after tossup that all start with 2 lines of the same non-clue is wasteful and continues to promote the aformentioned sense of ignorance and aforementioned lack of fun. Secondly, I would say that "today's standards" are little different from yesterday's standards; that is, they don't need to be. Wasteful use of space is still wasteful use of space, and this generation of new people haven't gotten measurably more knowledgeable, so what's different?


Lastly, I'm going to talk about something ugly and scary that was said in this discussion:
jsagoff said:
If you want to make the argument that writing shitty questions helps shitty players improve, go right ahead, but I doubt that that is the case.
Question writing is at the very core of learning. It has made us all better, and there was a time when each of us could only write "shitty" questions because we knew no better.
I will say that freshmen, by and large, don't care whether their questions are used. I'll also say that packet editors (some of whom are but sophomores and juniors) care very much whether their packets get used. A lot of effort is put into weeding out badly written questions, but two or three years in, there's still a lot about canon and too-easy-for-canon that people don't know about. Editors, more than anyone else, need to know why their questions were cut, especially if many of them were. A quick "answer too obscure" or "non-pyramidal", though harsh, would point us (and I am included in the group of "didn't make it's") in the right direction better than anything.

A pre-tournament guide is also essential. A guide to length and style with exemplifying questions points writers, but moreover editors in the right direction for finding a question-writing voice. Whenever I write, whenever I edit, I re-read both editions of the Michigan Memorandum so that I can remember not only how to write, but why we write.

This was my first post here on hsquizbowl, I hope you liked it.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:11 pm

Okay, and I'm not trying to scare you away or hurt your feelings, but I think you have no idea what you're talking about.


The only way to fix your problem with the stats would be to exclude good players from playing. Those people who have the high personal scores - one is this dude called Andrew Yaphe who tends to do that, and the other is this guy called Matt Weiner who tends to play alone and do that. When people who are just getting into the game play against those foes, they do not score, period. 40-50 percent of players can't average 10 ppg not because the questions are hard or easy, but because they're just not good enough and don't know enough stuff. All of the tossups or almost all of them are being answered by somebody - it's just not that 40-50 percent of people. That's the power distribution of quizbowl, and it's sad, but it's the facts. To oversimplify, you have a small pool of really quite good players, a small pool of middling players, and everybody else. I wish that "everybody else" could start burrowing into the upper categories, but it just doesn't seem to be happening.



I'm not sure what you're arguing with your "main problem" nonsense. The leadins are not "non-clues," they're just quite hard clues and they take up space because they have to be specific and detailed enough to allow people to buzz. If you're writing on a novel, you'll probably leadin with a description of a minor episode in that novel, but you have to describe well enough so that people who have read the novel can actually buzz. Then, no matter how dense the clues are, by the time you work down through the medium clues (characters, better-known plotlines) to baseline clues, you have a 7-line tossup. The new generation of players may not be more knowledgeable, but the old generation is. You may not realize it, but as umpteen tossups have been written on the same subjects, clues tend to get canonical (see above: why 40-50 percent of players aren't getting points - because the people who know these clues are buzzing on them, and that ain't the 40-50 percent). Maybe writing a tossup that satisfies the clue knowledge standards of the elite veterans and new players is just getting well-nigh impossible.


Sure, people need help on how to write better questions. I'm not sure that telling people why their questions were cut helps, but lots of people think it does, and are willing to do that. And, sure, a guide would be quite helpful. But, I'd personally direct you to see my previous post - I think the key to people writing good packets is them going to a place like the acf archive (and having other packets posted for perusal) and looking at a shitload of packets so you can begin to see the answers/clues that come up over and over again. Without this type of knowledge, it's hard for instructions on how to write good questions to have any meaning. If I tell you that your answer was "too obscure," that really only tells you "don't write another tossup on this answer" - but you have little frame of reference for what else might be obscure, and that can only be gained by having at least a shadowy knowledge of the canon. If I say "non-pyramidal," that will sometimes be confusing - you can avoid making common mistakes like sticking a date at the beginning of a battle tossup or something, but you still often have no way of knowing why clue x is generally thought easier than clue y. The prohibitive drawback is that looking through packets and taking notes, etc. takes a whole lot of time investment...but I just don't see a way around that.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:48 pm

While I'm not entirely on board with Ryan concerning the necessary acessibility level of a tournament, he does have a point that looking at those statistics without having any real knowledge of the circuit yields completely skewed results. After playing on the MLK set I can say that the difficulty, in my opinion, was regionals+. It was not universally accessible. I think the "Xmas in January" you're looking for is Penn Bowl, which both Weiner and I hope will, under new management, become the huge tournament it once was. MLK certainly in recent years has become a solidly more difficult tournament, which is fine as long as you know what you're getting into. ACF Fall is a tournament designed to have almost 100% accessibility. Do you think the next level up, ACF regionals, should be just as easy? Not everyone knows these things, as Ryan said. Sometimes tossups are legitimately too steep or too hard. But until you really know a lot about the canon (which takes time and/or diligent study) you're not necessarily in a position to make those judgment calls.

That last statement, as Ryan said, also applies to question writing. Here's what I propose to alleviate that problem: if you're writing a packet and are confused as to whether answers and/or clues are appropriate to the stated difficulty of the tournament, email or IM someone who might be of assistance. I will say right now that anyone writing a packet for a college tournament at which I will not be present (including mirrors etc) can feel free to email or IM me with such questions (ekwartler at gmail dot com, heysooskwartler on AIM). Please send an initial email/IM to confirm that I won't be present at any incarnation of the tournament, then upon said confirmation proceed to ask me any questions you like. I hope others will jump on this train and offer similar services, especially for science. Time permitting, I'll also be happy to look over your questions to ensure you've got things in the right order (I'm a busy guy, but one or two questions should be manageable). Speaking as an editor, detailed packet feedback is tough and time-consuming. But if a group of people are willing to offer fairly minimal preemptive feedback of this type, I think younger players who legitimately want to learn to write well will benefit greatly.

Take this under consideration. We can't all edit 3 tournaments a year, but a lot of more experienced players also have no business playing lower-level tournaments and/or are unable to play more appropriate ones. Take just a bit of time to give this sort of assistance and maybe a difference can be made.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:55 pm

I'll just pitch in and say that I agree with what Eric is saying. Since I'm not likely to play in many non-nationals tournaments in the next couple years, feel free to contact me if you have questions about questions. My contact information (email, AIM) is in my profile.

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Post by cvdwightw » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:03 pm

I had a longer response written out, but Ryan explained many of my points better than I did, so I'm just going to add a few things:
BobDole wrote:What, I ask, can be learned from opaqueness and a sense of ignorance? High school (and college) quiz bowl players learn canon not only from classes but by listening to questions and linking certain "triggers" to certain answers. When the question goes dead, and the answer is read, we learn "Ah! This guy I've never heard of wrote that opera I have heard of" or whatever connection is to be made. However, "Ah! This guy I've never heard of wrote that book I've also never heard of" doesn't help...For instance, while writing a question on John Milton, one might ask say the following: "I know he wrote Paradise Lost, but what else?"
I would actually say there is quite a bit to be learned; the issue is that there is no way to judge whether the answer you've never heard of is something you should know to be successful at a middle-to-high difficulty level tournament, or whether it's just something that's going to show up once. For instance, the freelance packet you heard from us contains tossups on, just to name a few, John Wycliffe, Spoon River Anthology, James Joule, and the Mali Empire, all of which I would expect at a standard high school tournament; and Tlaloc, Jelly Roll Morton, and Edward Tylor, whom I would expect at a Regionals-difficulty tournament. A tournament like MLK works for newer players at both the depth and breadth levels, and even if you don't work on the "breadth" level of the canon yet, surely there are several questions similar to your "Milton" example. It's just, as Ryan said, there were a lot of really good players at that tournament who would get those questions off clues they knew and you didn't.

Expanding on Ryan's argument about "non-clues" versus lead-ins, a 2 line clue on a minor plot device would likely include the clues (1) that this is a novel or play, (2) the names or descriptions of a few characters, (3) some kind of contextual information about the work, and/or (4) a description of an episode people who have read the work might find memorable. Now, for most people that do not recognize (2), (3), or (4), these clues do little more than narrow the answer space from "anything" to "a novel or play with a plot device I don't recognize". These are what I think you are calling "non-clues", which is where I (and presumably others) disagree. The fact that someone who has studied the work might have a reasonable chance of answering after that clue makes it perfect as a lead-in. A "non-clue" provides little information except possibly (1) to even people who have studied the work in-depth.

To use an example, I can write a one-line tossup: "This dude won a lot of battles and served as U.S. president. For ten points, name this victor at Appomattox." All the first sentence tells you is (1) this dude was some high-ranking military person and (2) he was a president. This certainly limits the answer space, but no one who has studied U.S. history at all could legitimately say whether it was Washington, Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower, or any other number of military men who ascended to the presidency. I can change it to write a two line tossup: "This dude's victories at Fort Donelson and Fort Henry brought him early notoriety, but the Credit Mobilier and Whiskey Ring scandals marred his presidency. For ten points, name this man famous for receiving Robert E. Lee's surrender." Now, if you know little to nothing about this, it's still going to read "this guy's a military man and a president". However, people who have knowledge will probably buzz after "Donelson". Now, while I would hope no one uses either of these as a lead-in, there is a marked difference between the "non-clues" in the first question and the "clues" in the second question.

I hope you don't construe these arguments as "people who play ACF and write good questions don't listen to the complaints of younger and less-good players", because they're not. I think Ryan and I both took the time to write a well-reasoned argument that, plain and simple, we're not sure where you're coming from. MLK was not aimed at the novice player (sorry). In tournaments aimed to please older and better players, there will be answers novice players haven't heard of, and people who will steal answers from you before you know what the question is asking for. Now, if you had the same complaints about Illinois Novice, which is specifically aimed at younger players with shorter and easier questions and a restricted field, I could understand. But for MLK and several other "Regionals-level" tournaments, the target audience is people who have some knowledge of the "Regionals-level" canon, which, unfortunately, is much larger than the knowledge an average novice player starts with. Do we need more tournaments like Illinois Novice to ease new players into the game? Most definitely. Should we be expected to cater established Regionals-level events to novice players? No.

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Post by ZachPozun » Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:25 pm

Well, I'll be honest here, but for the most part I agree with my teammate/former Kansas Senator BobDole.

I had no problem with answer selection at MLK, I thought it was almost exclusively appropriate/accessible with a few exceptions (such as something excessively obscure like "Brandeis Briefs" or the always-useless science biography, like that one on Joule). So I don't know if thats a function of packets submitted, questions chosed by Westbrook et al., or a combination. Regardless, I don't really think that was the problem.

I think the philosophy expressed here is the absolute root of the problems over 50% of teams had with MLK:
Perhaps the lack of powers and the fact that I tend to promote dense, clue-filled, and rather opaque questions that give people a sense of ignorance for a long time often contributes to a greater impression of difficulty when I write stuff.
I honestly fail to see how such a strategy is conducive to running a good tournament. I agree that for a tossup on a novel that begins with minor characters, plot points, etc is a good lead-in and contains enough clues to either narrow it down significantly or let a player very familiar with the work get it when they should. The problem is that at MLK, most of the questions were NOT edited in such a manner; those types of lead-ins are not opaque and don't give the idea of ignorance for a long time during the question. A SIGNIFICANT number of MLK questions began with things like literary criticism by unimportant critics, a variety of obscure equations with nothing to do with the stated effect, or facts about the person that his parents would be unlikely to know. These clues are very opaque, really do give a feeling of ignorance, and more importantly do NOT narrow the topic down beyond "book I may or may not have heard of". To be honest, we wondered if the editing strategy was to take a normal tossup and add 3 lines of utter obscurity. The bonuses had a more bizarre feel to them. One part was utterly gettable for even a novice, one part about medium difficulty that requires deeper knowledge, and one part that was almost exclusively not doable. What's the fun in having one part so easy to give it away and one part so hard it screams "nobody is getting this part"? MLK, and any other tournament, should not be written to require such laborious efforts to decode the question, let alone answer it.

To address the original question of Paul Litvak, how to encourage new players to actually stick around and voice their concerns, etc., I am unsure. Such a sentiment was not noticeable at Penn Bowl (logistic problems aside). It seemed Matt Weiner edited a good tournament that had difficult question selection (a bit easier than MLK) but didn't begin every tossup with 3 lines that meant nothing to anyone. Did the usual suspects do well? Was the score distribution about what BobDole described for MLK? Yes to both, and yet, people still seemed to have fun.

This quote sums up a good part of the problem.
The new generation of players may not be more knowledgeable, but the old generation is. You may not realize it, but as umpteen tossups have been written on the same subjects, clues tend to get canonical
If the tournaments are increasingly written with that philosophy that the same group of people will always be competing and that new questions and clues have to be written to make canonical topics more difficult, there WON'T be a new generation. I realize that a million tossups have been written on these subjects, but the assumption is generally that new people will be arriving who haven't heard the clues and people will be leaving who have. Quiz bowl can't continue to develop in this top heavy manner. Eventually a point will be reached, under the above strategy, where quiz bowl is nothing more than a clique of 10 people writing questions for each other and no new generation in existance.

If MLK wants to advertise itself as only for serious players and even average players (such as myself) need not apply, then so be it, but that is not a good long term strategy. Quiz bowl needs more tournaments like Penn Bowl, NAQT sectionals, etc where the new generation is welcomed, given feedback on how to write, and at least given the chance to feel like they have a chance to participate.

And finally...
If you want to make the argument that writing shitty questions helps shitty players improve, go right ahead, but I doubt that that is the case.
Whoever said that should be absolutely embarrassed. What an absolute insult to every person who dares to try to join quiz bowl and begin to become a good player. You want to know why people didn't enjoy MLK and might want to quit instead of stay on to become good players in the future? That quote encapsulates it all into one convenient elitist and utterly oblivious package.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:01 pm

Good job perpetuating the fallacies put forth by bobdole. Brandeis Briefs: not hard. The giveaway was about Brandeis. Hey, it's a notable Jewish member of the supreme court, and they're describing a brief. They also really really are not that obscure. Also, you are completely misunderstanding the argument here. How much do you know about literary criticism? I remember one crit bonus in MLK, and I thought it was appropriate for a playoff packet. Maybe you've never heard of Leslie Fiedler, but in reality he's a HUGE figure in American literary criticism of the mid-late 20th century (see Love and Death in the American Novel). Can you recognize the important critics in every major area of literature? Probably not, but that's ok, neither can most of the good players on the circuit. Grad students in literature, however, are much more likely to be able to do so, and they're the ones targeted by those clues. Someone with more real knowledge should be able to buzz earlier and get points. Both of you, stop assuming that because you and/or your teammates don't know something, nobody does. The problems you're describing regarding opacity plagued ACF Fall, not MLK. MLK questions need to begin with clues only the best players can get and end with clues all good players and most others can get. ACF Fall and other novice tournaments should have shorter tossups with less obscure leadins, a philosophy I feel was executed pretty well in the Penn Bowl set. The fact is that MLK was not a novice tournament and thus attracted the best of the best (Yaphe, say, and others) plus grad students who are likely to have more real knowledge on their subjects than most undergrads.

Also, yes, finding new leadins for old answers is often a goal of tournaments like MLK, but the middle clues should still be gettable by a player experienced with the canon. What may seem hard actually could be a clue that comes up all the time for a certain topic, and those clues are going to continue to appear. Assuming the new leadins will trickle down is fallacious.

As to your final point, I completely agree. Everyone should continue to try to write, and editors should do their best to tell them in a detailed manner what they did wrong. For example, I made the comment in another thread that a tossup on Mr. Square, the protagonist of Flatland, was stupid. Travis emailed me asking for a more detailed critique, and I responded

Flatland is a chestnut, something that is completely overrated despite having no real academic significance. Plus, 4 people in the room (in our practice) knew that the answer was "the protagonist of flatland" like 1 line in. Because it's a book about shapes, you know? Novel + math = Flatland.

I was wrong to dismiss it with a simple, insensitive comment. Ask for feedback and you'll hopefully get it, pester the editor if necessary. Or take Jerry and me up on our pre-feedback offers. Don't forget, people, that learning in quizbowl is inevitably proactive. Yeah, you're gonna get better slowly and to a point by going to practice and tournaments, but you're never gonna be any good unless you study. Similarly, you need to read old packets and ask editors (any editors) to tell you what you did wrong. Experienced players want to help others get better, really. So maybe instead of telling the world "oh Brandeis Briefs are too hard period" and "tossups are too long," say "hm, maybe I just don't know that and should read up on it, or at least trust that it's completely possible for it to come up again" and" those clues are there for a reason, maybe I should read old packets to see what comes up every time for these things." If something really is too hard, so be it, but at least you'll have it in your bank for a more difficult tournament.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:03 pm

I don't actually want to reply again, I just want to point out two things.

1. That Joule question was NOT science bio, but actual science stuff related to the name Joule.

2. There is no doubt that Jared Sagoff is the archetypal representation of quizbowl elitism.

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Post by ZachPozun » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:11 pm

Oh I know I know nothing about literary criticism or Brandeis briefs. I'm a science person, that's what I know best. I should NOT be getting tossups on either of those things early, thats a given. I based that criticism of the Brandeis briefs from what one person said in my room. Namely "I'm a major in that area, and that is not something covered until law school" Same as the literature stuff, from where I was sitting it seemed to be useless as far as clues go to myself as well as to people who should have a better handle on it. I'm sorry if I didn't state that. I'm simply going on criticism from people who SHOULD know this stuff.

As for the science stuff which I do feel qualified to talk about, I thought a lot of the questions were very good. Science biography should be banned. Questions about a specific chemistry "name" reaction that don't contain any actual clues other than naming a whole bunch of similar reactions are not helpful.

Once again, I didn't have a problem with answer selection itself--that part was right on the money and about what I'd expect for a good, non-novice tournament. I just didn't like the admitted opaque clues at the beginning of nearly every tossup that do NOT serve to narrow it down in any meaningful manner. Even if I am unfamiliar with a book (and for the most part, I will be) I should at least be able to understand "well, its looking for a novel featuring (minor character 1), (minor character 2), and (minor event 1)" after 2 lines, not "well... its likely a book". Those type of clues designed to give a feeling of ignorance don't help anyone.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:39 pm

My problem with the Brandeis Brief tossup was not the subject matter, but the fact that they used it as a generic term, rather than as a specific term.

The actual Brandeis Brief -- the one filed by Mr. Brandeis himself -- is pretty famous. I read it in an American history class my freshman year, and you hear about it all the time in political discussion about the Supreme Court. It had a pretty earthshaking impact on the way that the Supreme Court goes about doing its thing, and is very relevant to modern debates about what the Supreme Court should or should not do. In fact, I myself have written at least two tossups about the Brandeis Brief during my career, though I don't think either got submitted to any tournament.

What I have never -- until MLK -- heard is "Brandeis Brief" being used as a generic term for any legal argument that is backed up with social science. I'm not convinced that this is a mainstream usage of the term. I've always heard it in reference to one particular brief only.

Maybe when I go to law school, I'll hear somebody use the term that way, but if the term is only used in a small community that most quizbowlers are not a part of, it should not be coming up like that. At least make "brief containing social science" an acceptable alternative answer if you're going to do that.
Last edited by Skepticism and Animal Feed on Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by DumbJaques » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:41 pm

Okay, when I first posted in this thread, I was taking the position that MLK could have done more to accommodate younger (though not bad) players without sacrificing quality, and it mainly had to do with the issue of using questions. But now I'm going to be switching way to the opposite pole, and here's why:

Your logic is idiotic.
As for the science stuff which I do feel qualified to talk about, I thought a lot of the questions were very good.
Then why was 90% of the stuff you complained about stuff you "don't feel qualified to talk about?" That doesn't make any sense to me. "Going off of what other people said" or whatever is a very, very bad idea when it becomes your sole reasoning. The main clues you're talking about are in lit (and I guess social science, concerning the Brandeis thing). If you don't feel qualified to rate the first few lines of a tossup, don't complain about it. I was left feeling like a blithering idiot through about 80% of most science questions. And I'm a pretty good player, I don't think you're going to take a look at the MLK stats and say I suck. But dude, I'm a freshman, and my focus in school (and interest outside of it) hardly touches on science. There are people in a competition like MLK who are grad students in one or maybe even several sciences, who have been writing and powering top-level science questions for 4+ years. What you said is tantamount to me complaining that we should cut out the lead-ins for those science tossups Sorice powered against my team, because I'd never heard of them. That's dumb.

Also, the whole "my friend says he's a major in that area and that it isn't covered till law school" thing is a terrible argument. First, quizbowl is not written to exactly mirror the undergraduate curriculum, there are lots of things in that curriculum that aren't in quizbowl, and vice versa. This is not a new concept. Second, I guess your friend's experience as a major in "that area" (whatever that means) covers the sum total of all undergraduate law-related courses in all universities in the country, because that's the only thing that could make that statement logically founded. Third, this is quizbowl. It goes beyond taking a midterm or a final, and it definitely goes way the hell beyond that at MLK. Even if the dude had taken every course on American jurisprudence his school offered, it wouldn't make something he hadn't learned in those classes unaskable. But mostly, fourth, you have no idea about said experience of this guy or any way of referencing whether what he was saying was accurate or even true as opposed to just the result of vented frustration, so it's pretty pointless to bring up.

Your argument about the lit leadins is equally baseless. You say you're not a lit person, but you complain that because a grad student can figure out what the question is about a line or two before you can, the question sucks. Unless you're talking about pronoun confusion (which, as an MLK player, you're either not, or are making things up), a lit grad student should be able to hear a critic or a work of criticism that he knows reasonably well (or better), and figure out "ok, that was on the modern novel" or "he's a dramatic critic" before you should be able to discern "It's a novel!" after hearing "in this novel." In any event, as a lit player who was able to get lit questions against Chicago A, Illinois A, and Matt Weiner, I almost never found myself not knowing what a lit questions was going towards. And having criticism in the clue doesn't make a lit question inherently opaque, either. That's like saying that "X historian cited this battle as a long-term inspiration for . . ." is opaque when obviously someone who studies history extensively (and not at all necessarily a grad student in history) could be easily expected to either have read that guy's work or narrow things down based on superior historical knowledge.

Basically, you've admitted that you have no frame of reference in the stuff you're referring to, and liked the questions that you are qualified to discuss. I, again, had no clue for the vast majority of science questions. But at this level, I shouldn't. In principle I am more on the side of younger players, and I might disagree with some of Ryan's positions, but come on, your complaints are ludicrous. I fail to see even one point that cannot be boiled down to "this is too hard for me," and in your argument specifically, "this is too hard for me, even though I don't know anything about it." MLK was a high level tournament. Too hard? Maybe, but certainly not for the reasons you're throwing out there. Making arguments like that is just going to make it harder for a legitimate discussion between older players/editors and younger players to take place.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:59 pm

Let me assure you, Bruce, that Brandeis Brief is indeed a general term often used in legal discourse to denote beefed-up briefs that go beyond the simple facts of a case. It's probably of greater overall importance than the specific initial Brandeis Brief. I'll also note - that question was not mine, it was Dave Rappaport's, so you can hardly argue I'm levying law school obscurity.

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Post by Susan » Sun Feb 04, 2007 7:13 pm

I liked the Brandeis brief question. I know pretty much nothing about law, but I am familiar with the use of "Brandeis brief" as a general term (it's been in the news relatively recently in reference to Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger).

To make this comment a bit more substantive, I'll add that I was wondering what happened to the "mentoring" program that occasionally happened with MLK, where a novice team would be paired up with a more experienced team that could advise it on its packet and such (I guess the teams' packets would have been combined in the tournament). Did people actually participate in this? Did people like it? If it was a workable system, it seems like it would make life a little easier for the editor while providing novice teams with more detailed critiques than they would otherwise receive.

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Post by cvdwightw » Sun Feb 04, 2007 7:29 pm

What I'm seeing in the resurrection of this discussion is what may be a microcosm of the problem, namely:

1. There are certain things (e.g. starting a literature/history tossup with criticism, starting a science tossup with references to a niche area normally not experienced until upper division/graduate school) that older players find perfectly acceptable at a good tournament and newer players have a problem with.

2. Newer players find it difficult to articulate exactly why they have these problems because they don't have the knowledge base/tournament experience to get a decent understanding of the canon. Older players who do have this knowledge base and continue playing (especially those who routinely post here) have defended themselves from so much anti-ACF nonsense that they view all (especially poorly articulated) criticism of mACF questions as an attack on ACF philosophy on question difficulty and quality, and respond as such.

3. People take Jared Sagoff way, way too seriously.

It seems to me that newer players come to a tournament and complain about obscurity and opacity, and older players shove this into the "ACF is hard" non-argument. Let's face it, most newer players don't want to hear three lines of literary criticism or seven out of twenty tossups on things they've never heard of. At the same time, older players don't want to hear the rehashed arguments of "the hard part of the bonus is impossible", "stop writing tossups on things no one has heard of", and "stop putting three lines of clues that don't help me at the beginning of every tossup".

If new players need to have a voice in order to continue to participate in quiz bowl, then they need to use this voice properly. I can see why they think the "old guard" dismisses what they have to say, and I can see why the "old guard" dismisses some of it. So, newer players, please don't make sweeping generalizations in your arguments. Don't say "These questions were impossible and it was unfair that people beat me to questions before I knew what the question was about", because all that does is keep older players from taking any arguments you may have at face value.

You may not believe me, but most of the "good" players in the game are genuinely concerned about the potential decline of good question writers, and will work to rectify this problem. The issue is that after a couple of years most of us outgrow that "new player" stage, and we don't know exactly how to best work on this problem. So we need constructive feedback that we can't just pigeonhole into one of the old, outdated arguments.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:00 pm

At the risk of causing a horrible rift in the fabric of space and time, I will also note that I felt like many of the tossups were deliberately opaque until about halfway through, where there occurred a precipitous drop in difficulty. Also, the hard bonus parts actually were really hard. And not just in areas where I'm not a specialist, but in areas where I actually have a good reason to believe I could get 30 points on a bonus. One example that comes readily to mind is a bonus part on the Voight electro-optical effect; I wonder how many people who played at MLK have ever heard of such a thing.

I don't agree with much of what is being said by the folks from Pitt, but I think that one point bears consideration. Once I have the packets, I'll post more detailed comments in the MLK thread.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Feb 04, 2007 9:26 pm

Well, take something like the Voigt Effect. Now, I'm not a very good physics player so it's tough for me to evaluate relative difficulties of stuff. But I know there's no way in hell I should 30 a physics bonus, so when I write a question, I try to pick something that seems about right (without knowing about it myself). I try to write a part that a physics specialist will get, and that most other people won't unless they're lucky. That's my general conception of a third part. A quick search of my archive tells me it has come up three times before (though as clues, not bonus parts or tus) and has something to do with birefringence. And, so I just sort of shrug and think "eh, let's make this a third part." Same thing with parts like the Mott Transition and Matteucci Effect - I really don't have a clue in hell what these things are but they seem hard and important in a scientific sense so I say "great, I just found a third part." Obviously, with other subjects, I can do a much better job of measuring correctly.

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Post by The Time Keeper » Sun Feb 04, 2007 9:45 pm

grapesmoker wrote:At the risk of causing a horrible rift in the fabric of space and time, I will also note that I felt like many of the tossups were deliberately opaque until about halfway through, where there occurred a precipitous drop in difficulty. Also, the hard bonus parts actually were really hard. And not just in areas where I'm not a specialist, but in areas where I actually have a good reason to believe I could get 30 points on a bonus. One example that comes readily to mind is a bonus part on the Voight electro-optical effect; I wonder how many people who played at MLK have ever heard of such a thing.

I don't agree with much of what is being said by the folks from Pitt, but I think that one point bears consideration. Once I have the packets, I'll post more detailed comments in the MLK thread.

I have to agree with Jerry in that these were really the only problems with MLK that I noticed. A lot of tossups seemed to have intentionally hard to get leadins/subsequent couple of lines which resulted in only four teams having over ten powers. There were also a few bonuses which seemed to follow a "find your ass, find a more specific point on your ass, haha enjoy your 20 points you dicks" trajectory. Overall I thought the question set was great, though.

From the point of view of a player who sucks at quizbowl, like, a lot, I didn't find the answer selection to be as hard as some people have said. I'd be surprised if really all that many tossups went dead in rooms with two four-person teams (science not included, as that's all crazy moon-talk to me so I can't judge what people do/should know).

As far as pointing out how many people had less than 10 PPG, I think a lot of that is just because there aren't that many tossup points to go around in any given game. It's not as if these people were playing solo or against empty chairs. When many of your games are against excellent competition, it's going to take a considerable hit on your stats.

Not having had to contribute toward a packet I can't say how things went for this tournament, but I imagine most editors would be glad to give feedback and constructive criticism on a submitted packet given that it wasn't sent at the last minute. If a young/inexperienced team gets their packet in relatively early and asks for input from the editor, I think they're a lot more likely to hear "Here's what you can do in the future to write better." than "Thanks for nothing, assholes. Enjoy hearing none of your questions while you read during your bye game!"

I imagine it sucks to be part of a young team that gets repeatedly trounced in each game, but it's not as if there's nothing that you can do about it. People who spend time learning stuff will be rewarded with points. Look at Chris Ray at MLK for example. He's a freshman (right?) who managed to more than hold his own because he's taken the time to learn stuff. I don't mean to have a "Fuck you, learn stuff." attitude toward teams with legitimate complaints, but I think a lot of difficulty complaints are unfounded. I also don't think teams that go 0-whatever during tournaments should get discouraged, I think it's actually a great source of encouragment. You look at teams that go 5-12-1 in a game against you and you should be thinking "There's no reason we can't become that good."
Last edited by The Time Keeper on Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 04, 2007 9:53 pm

Ryan Westbrook wrote:Well, take something like the Voigt Effect. Now, I'm not a very good physics player so it's tough for me to evaluate relative difficulties of stuff. But I know there's no way in hell I should 30 a physics bonus, so when I write a question, I try to pick something that seems about right (without knowing about it myself). I try to write a part that a physics specialist will get, and that most other people won't unless they're lucky. That's my general conception of a third part. A quick search of my archive tells me it has come up three times before (though as clues, not bonus parts or tus) and has something to do with birefringence. And, so I just sort of shrug and think "eh, let's make this a third part." Same thing with parts like the Mott Transition and Matteucci Effect - I really don't have a clue in hell what these things are but they seem hard and important in a scientific sense so I say "great, I just found a third part." Obviously, with other subjects, I can do a much better job of measuring correctly.
Ok, not to rag on you, but that's a terrible way of writing questions. I mean, I understand the effort involved in writing questions, but you have to do some research to understand what you're writing about. I've never heard of the Matteucci Effect either (for those wondering, it's the magnetic equivalent of piezoelectricity); granted, I'm not a specialist in solid state physics, but if I have to be a solid-state specialist to get 30 on your bonus, I think that's unreasonable. Mott transitions are situations where I think you lucked out, since that's better known than the other two. But you can't just rely on that every time, because a lot of times you're going to miss and ask for things that aren't gettable by anyone, including experts.

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Post by DumbJaques » Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:05 pm

Look at Chris Ray at MLK for example, he's a freshman (right?)
I am. Just to be clear, I don't *at all* have "fuck you, learn stuff" view. I think that things could use some changes, but that it has to be about dialogue between older players and younger ones, not people crouching in ridiculous extremes and hurling baseless arguments at one another. I took such issue with the post I responded to because I feels like it represents younger players in a way that's going to ruin a chance for that dialogue. And I came in with a significant amount of experience playing at the top of the high school circuit, an with experience writing a tournament for that circuit largely on my own, so I don't hold myself up as a young player archetype and view all young players who didn't have that experience as morons. But just about every player was in a situation where they felt outclassed by the field, and there are positive and negative ways to go about affecting change (whether it's internal improvement or trying to work with editors to change the external system). A lot of the things in the Pitt posts, to me, represented the epitome of some of those negative ways.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:15 pm

I didn't mean to imply I do no research on it; I think it's safe to say I probably do more research on topics I write on than almost anyone in the game (in fact, I'm almost sure of this). I look at the topics covered in intro-level textbooks of subjects (many of which are searchable online), I look at my archive to see if it's come up before, and I look at general descriptions of it on different credible websites. If it seems important, I stick it in as a third part. I was exaggerating in the above post - I see the 30-point part as giving points to specialists and solid generalists. But, if you don't fall in that category with regard to a specific topic, you're probably not getting 30 on the bonus. But, beyond the steps above, for something like physics...if I have to edit it, I'm bound to miss a few times and misunderstand just how hard something is. I doubt I'd do the same for most other subjects.

I do like canon expansion in third point parts, and actually I like writing and playing bonuses a lot better than tossups. But, since this is a common criticism, as an exercise and discussion stimulant, I'll pick a random packet from MLK and list the third parts of bonuses: Vampire (work of Munch), Diamond as Big as the Ritz, Battle of Chapultepec, pedalfers, Riesman off lesser titles, House of Sleeping Beauties, Dean-Stark apparatus, Joe Versus the Volcano, Joachim Murat, Wilfrid Sellars, Garcilaso de la Vega, The Return of Ulysses, Mott Transition, Archidamus, Margery Kempe, William Vickrey, Norton Sound, primer walking, Francisco Lopez, John Marston

Now, of these there are some that are pretty hard - Sellars, Archidamus, Vickrey, primer walking, Dean-Stark are ones I'd say are...there are others that don't seem all that hard: Vampire, Chapultepec, House of Sleeping, Mott, Norton, Garcilaso...and there are others that seem very 30able to me: Murat, Lopez, Diamond, Volcano, Marston, Kempe. Is this a fair estimation? This distribution seems about right to me.

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Post by The Time Keeper » Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:20 pm

I was exaggerating how some of the bonuses seemed, and I don't think there were many "impossible" 30s, I had just heard a couple teams "complaining" about constantly 20ing bonuses, and it seemed to be a general observation.

I don't recall any hard bonus parts where I thought "This is stupid/not worth trying to learn" (trash stuff not withstanding).

Edit: I suggest a mod with a better idea of what to put where throw a couple of these posts in the MLK discussion thread as there's been a bit of a sidetrack.

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Post by ZachPozun » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:08 am

DumbJaques wrote:Your logic is idiotic.
Lovely.

Did you listen to what I posted or did you decide to jump down my throat about a minor point? Let me reiterate: I thought the answer selection at MLK was superb. It was exactly what I expected; I heard some people complaining about a few answers being too obscure or what have you, but I certainly am not qualified to question whether those were legitimate tossup subjects. Once again, the answer selection was very good and exactly what we expected.

The part we objected to was the strategy of writing questions to be deliberately opaque and difficult to the point the typical player has NO clue what is being asked for or able to narrow down. After three lines of a tossup, regardless of the answer, the typical player should NOT feel hopelessly ignorant. If I have never read the book that is the answer, then, if the question is good, I shouldn't get it until the giveaway. But the other criterion for a good question is that after the first few lines, I should be able to narrow down in my mind something like: when it was written, minor characters, plot points, stylistic traits, etc. Same for any topic. If it's a chemistry instrumental technique, the typical player should be at least able to have some clue what is going on, not feeling hopelessly ignorant about the subject. Perhaps that's just a personal opinion.

For an academic tournament to be enjoyably difficult for an experience player, but at the very least fun for a novice, the tossups do NOT have to be 3-4 initial lines of obscurity followed by actual clues and bonuses do not have to be "count your fingers, find something harder but still reasonable, don't even think about getting 30". If that's how it is going to be in the future, then don't wonder why new players don't have fun and don't stick around.

If packet-submission academic tournaments are going to become for the same 15 experienced players only, then so be it. Inexperienced players will stay and improve not by getting feedback on the questions they write or anything of the like, but by sticking with it. If quiz bowl ceases to be fun for them, then most will simply quit. The strategy of writing questions on reasonable topics with unreasonably long lead-ins and unhelpful clues is not one for the long term health of quiz bowl as a whole. Letting bad/inexperienced players win or at least answer questions is not the only way to keep quiz bowl fun for them; simply feeling like they can improve with a little studying or by being able to at least decode the question is the only way the new/bad player returns to become a good player.

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Post by ZachPozun » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:33 am

Sorry I somehow missed these:

Jerry's:
At the risk of causing a horrible rift in the fabric of space and time, I will also note that I felt like many of the tossups were deliberately opaque until about halfway through, where there occurred a precipitous drop in difficulty. Also, the hard bonus parts actually were really hard.
And from Dolemite
I have to agree with Jerry in that these were really the only problems with MLK that I noticed. A lot of tossups seemed to have intentionally hard to get leadins/subsequent couple of lines which resulted in only four teams having over ten powers. There were also a few bonuses which seemed to follow a "find your ass, find a more specific point on your ass, haha enjoy your 20 points you dicks" trajectory.
I wanted to re-emphasize that this is largely the point Bob Dole and myself wanted to make. We, as well as the rest of Pitt and our friends at Rochester, realize that ACF is hard, but is a legitimate format. It is not easy to become an experienced ACF player, but, in current structure, there is little impetus for a young/experienced/bad player to put in the time it takes to become a good ACF player. It is a given you will hear tossup answers that you are not familiar with; this isn't high school where at least you've heard of everything.

The problem is when the questions are structured to make a legitimate tossup answer not just hard for the average player, but to make the that player feel utterly lost. If that is just how the ACF format is, then fine, we understand that. However, then the question of why so many people don't have fun and don't come back becomes absolutely pointless--the answer is evident. If that is so, then most academic packet submission tournaments will eventually become the same 15 players trying to stump each other.

Penn Bowl featured many good teams and many bad teams and, yet, somehow even the losing teams enjoyed themselves. Contrary to what was said above, losing a lot doesn't necessarily drive a player away. Jerry's team handed our asses to us at Penn Bowl and, miraculously, even our freshmen still had fun that match--it's very impressive to see a player with that breadth of knowledge and skill. The only difference is that the questions were still edited such that the experienced player could answer before a relatively inexperienced player, but that the questions were not totally opaque for several lines.

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Post by The Time Keeper » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:57 am

I think that particular problem can be written off as one editor's fondness for questions with a lot of deep clues/facts in the beginning and middle. I don't have the packet set so I can't go through questions individually, but I don't recall too many questions where I couldn't tell the general direction they were headed in after the beginning. Sure there were times where I knew I'd have to hear a couple more sentences before being able to come up with even a reasonable guess, but that's the price one pays for not having deep enough knowledge of the material.

If you choose to view Ryan's writing/editing style as a few lines of obscurity followed by a quizbowl question, that's fine, if a bit overstated. That's just how he rolls. For what it's worth, I believe MLK's difficulty was advertised as being noticably higher than Penn Bowl's, even if it manifested itself in a weird way.

I hope you choose not to view any negatives you found in the MLK set as representative of ACF in general, as ACF questions at every level tend to be awesome and you should attend ACF tournaments whenever possible.
We, as well as the rest of Pitt and our friends at Rochester, realize that ACF is hard, but is a legitimate format. It is not easy to become an experienced ACF player, but, in current structure, there is little impetus for a young/experienced/bad player to put in the time it takes to become a good ACF player. It is a given you will hear tossup answers that you are not familiar with; this isn't high school where at least you've heard of everything.


I'm not sure if I really understand this perspective. I'm sure becoming a great ACF player can look like a daunting task if your only motivation is to eventually beat the Chicagos, Jerrys, Weiners, and Yaphes of the quizbowl world, but I think a lot of enjoyment from improving as a player would come from simply knowing a lot more than you did when you started. Gradually improving personal stats and increasing numbers of wins at tournaments should just be a side-effect of your wanting to learn things.

I think you'll find that most "studying to be a good ACF player" comes in the form of people reading up on things they find interesting. I personally think hearing tossups on stuff I haven't heard of or am barely familiar with is great, it gives you a whole lot to learn about that you likely wouldn't otherwise come into contact with.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:10 am

Ryan Westbrook is widely spoken of as an eccentric when it comes to editing philosophy. I don't think the habits of his that you mention relating to MLK are that widespread in the work of other editors.

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lost in the soup

Post by BobDole » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:32 am

I think much of what I meant was obfuscated by the examples (admittedly not the best examples) I used to say it, so I'm going to lay them out here.

1) At the MLK tournament, there was a clear line between teams that were going to be competitive and hear their questions and teams that were never really had a shot. My real point is, as has been stated by others of all stripes, that there is a huge gap between ACF novices and the kind of players that show up to win at MLK. I don't know if you'd call it disillusionment, but I honestly thought there was a way to bridge the gap. I'm getting a deeper and deeper grasp on how that seems less likely.


2) The kind of feedback on questions that have been written is in no way a substitute for hard learning. Instead, it is both a sign of engagement from the tournament editor and a pointer as to how to research. That is, if for a dozen questions, there is a note that points to lead-ins that are too easy, a clear picture forms that what one thought was hard really isn't so. Every note, every word from the more experienced to the less experienced helps paint a picture of how to get better, and I can't stress this enough.
I can't believe that quiz bowl, even at higher levels, should have to be about sitting at a computer, scrolling through the Stanfords. (though obviously reviewing old packets is a benefit) When we receive notes on how obscure or easy a clue is, we get a better idea of how reliable the source from which we got it is. In this way, rather than focusing on finding out what other people have done, we can focus on how available information is to other people. In this way, when we don't already have real knowledge, we know better how to go out and get it. (e.g. An eighth-grade science book can't tell me enough about piezoelecticity, but this text over there can.)

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Post by ZachPozun » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:33 am

I'm not sure if I really understand this perspective. I'm sure becoming a great ACF player can look like a daunting task if your only motivation is to eventually beat the Chicagos, Jerrys, Weiners, and Yaphes of the quizbowl world, but I think a lot of enjoyment from improving as a player would come from simply knowing a lot more than you did when you started. Gradually improving personal stats and increasing numbers of wins at tournaments should just be a side-effect of your wanting to learn things.

I think you'll find that most "studying to be a good ACF player" comes in the form of people reading up on things they find interesting. I personally think hearing tossups on stuff I haven't heard of or am barely familiar with is great, it gives you a whole lot to learn about that you likely wouldn't otherwise come into contact with.
Nope, I totally agree with you. I think we're all in quiz bowl because we enjoy hearing new things and being exposed to a lot of new and interesting things that we wouldn't typically come across in our education. Its more than just entering specifically to win, we all enter to learn some new things and generally have fun. I know we never enter tournaments on the idea that we're going to win or, in many cases, hit .500. We enter to have a good time and learn something new and interesting.

I do agree that ACF is a good format. I've played it before many times, including ACF fall at CMU. Paul Litvak's original comments were in regards to MLK and that is why I've directed my comments about that specific tournament and the way those particular questions were written.

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Re: lost in the soup

Post by The Time Keeper » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:55 am

BobDole wrote: 1) At the MLK tournament, there was a clear line between teams that were going to be competitive and hear their questions and teams that were never really had a shot. My real point is, as has been stated by others of all stripes, that there is a huge gap between ACF novices and the kind of players that show up to win at MLK. I don't know if you'd call it disillusionment, but I honestly thought there was a way to bridge the gap. I'm getting a deeper and deeper grasp on how that seems less likely.
The best teams at MLK were many of the best teams in the country. There's definitely going to be a huge skill gap between them and the newer players and teams. Plus since it was an open tournament, some people who aren't circuit regulars played and there were a couple teams comprised of people from different schools or people no longer taking classes. I don't think the top end of MLK's field is indicative of the average circuit tournament. Another thing is that good quizbowl is naturally going to prevent upsets. If there's a notable gap in the skills of two teams, the better team is always going to win. If you stick with the game and trying to improve at it, it'll just be a matter of time before the new people are trying to figure out why they can't beat you.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:54 am

I'm not quite sure I get the significance of the focus on "opacity" in tossups. Does it really matter whether a tossup on a novel starts with "this novel" as opposed to "it" or "this work"? Why?

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:20 am

Whether I'm an eccentric or not (certainly I am just based on personality), no matter how much it's restated the argument being made here just boils down to the same retarded platitude: "Those leadins are too hard for my team, and less experienced teams in general, and some of those bonus parts are too hard as well."

Okay, that's fine. There are plenty of tournaments to play where that won't be the case. As has been mentioned, there are lots of ACF tourneys (especially these days) that specifically try to make that not the case. But then there are tourneys where it is the case (certainly ones like chi open and acf nats), and my writing proclivities tend to fall into that category. I read in a room at MLK which featured pretty much only higher-level teams playing each other, and watched a whole lot of buzzes quite early and in the middle of questions and relatively few getting to the FTP. I'm tired of the generality in this discussion - if people want to talk about specific individual questions (say in the actual mlk thread) and try to make the case that 3 or 4 lines into the tossup they had no clue whether it was asking about a novel or a hamburger, fire away.

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Post by your mom » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:50 am

Yeah and honestly, I wrote and edited a huge chunk of this tournament too and in my view there were relatively few question I put in there that were guilty of all these alleged crimes. I can certainly think of many (pot of gold, room with a view, immortality ode, leon uris, playboy of the western world) where the questions started off with definite clues (ie characters, minor plot lines) and really should have been pretty instantly helpful in helping people buzz. So while I secretly agree that Ryan is an editor who likes to tack on a bunch of schlock (albeit defensible schlock) at the beginning of questions, I challenge you to find these questions in great number in my areas of lit, social science, and arts if you think they are there. Literary criticism clues I stand by, some people do know that stuff and should be rewarded.

Also, Brandeis Briefs was an ok question and the result of me trying to expand the social sciences canon a little bit while still having a question with an easy giveaway. And yes, the use of the generic term is valid. My brother helped me write that question. He want to law school. OOOOOH Snap!

I don't like quiz bowl enough to make this post any longer. Sorry if you guys didn't like the set. It may well have different editors next year or much more guerilla editing. I'm sure the quality will be fantastic then and everyone can pat each other on the back about how smart they are while answering crappy questions riddled with butt clues.


word.

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The Time Keeper
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Post by The Time Keeper » Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:38 am

Speaking of which, when/where will the set be made available?

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No Rules Westbrook
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:45 pm

Anyone who wants it can email me at CryoBristow@aol.com, and I'll send it. If someone wants to then post it publicly somewhere or send to Stanford or whatever, that's fine.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:53 pm

I'm still trying to formulate an understanding of precisely what the complaint is so I can find out if I have anything useful to add. In addition to needing some more explanation of why "opacity" is such a big deal, there are two more major themes I don't get that I'd like the Pitt people or someone else to elaborate on for me:
-did you feel frustrated playing the elite teams and being beaten to questions, or playing other mid-level teams and having to wait before anyone buzzed?
-did you really think Penn Bowl was an improvement in the areas you discussed? I thought I put in some pretty hard leadins and final bonus parts there too. The tossups were shorter (although perhaps only by 1 or at most 2 lines, I can't imagine MLK really exceeded 8 line tossups in 10 point TNR more than a handful of times) but not really intended as easier. The bonuses were probably longer if anything, I personally enjoy long-ass bonus parts so I'd be surprised if I did a better job than MLK of keeping bonuses under control.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:19 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:did you really think Penn Bowl was an improvement in the areas you discussed? I thought I put in some pretty hard leadins and final bonus parts there too.
I think the argument they are making is that the Penn Bowl lead-ins were clear (that is, you could tell what class of answer is being asked for very quickly), whereas the MLK lead-ins led you wondering what was being asked about for some time.

I personally did not notice anything like that at MLK, but that appears to be what they're saying.

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