SCT Discussion Thread

Old college threads.
User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5695
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Post by Important Bird Area »

Stupid almanac clues in geography questions: Didn't we have a big discussion about this after the ICT last year while trying to figure out how to make the overlarge geography distribution more tolerable? No one wants to hear clues like "60 mile long canal" or "1200 miles long." They don't help people who actually care about geography--in fact, said people have made it known that they really dislike such clues.
As quoted, this is a defensible use of such things because it has geographically situated real clues in front of it, thus the numbers reduce to "it flows near the Volga but is shorter," and I can see how that might help someone. I have no problem with clues like this a few times per tournament; what needs to be utterly banished is the use of these clues at the beginning of tossups.
Ulugbek
Lulu
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:09 pm
Location: Madison, WI

Post by Ulugbek »

[quote="Matt Weiner"]
-Misguided attempts at encouraging people to "figure it out": There's nothing wrong with rewarding knowledge of topics other than that in the answer if done properly. But sometimes it can backfire. In the below question, someone though to reward people for knowing where the "Virgin Lands Territory" was. Of course, it makes logical sense at that point to think that Almaty would be the answer, since that was the capital of the Kazakhstan SSR and the capital wasn't moved until well after independence. One is better off not knowing that the Virgin Lands Territory was in Kazakhstan at all--definitely not good writing. I should also note that the concept of a tossup on "Astana" is pretty ridiculous in and of itself.

Founded in 1824 by Siberian Cossacks as a fortress on the Ishim [ih-SHIM] River, in 1961 it became the
capital of the Virgin Lands Territory and was renamed from Aqmola to Tselinograd. Osama Bin Laden's
half-brother designed a new planned city around the old one to serve as the new capital for President (*)
Nursultan Nazarbayev [noor-sul-TAHN nah-zar-BYE-eff]. For 10 points—what city replaced Almaty [AHLmah-
tee] as capital of Kazakhstan?
answer: Astana [ah-stah-NAH] (prompt on “Akmolinskâ€
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8425
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

Ulugbek wrote:As for the notion that Astana is a ridiculous tossup answer-- it is the capital of a state that is the leading economic force in its region.
The facts that it is the capital of Kazakhstan and is not Almaty are the only things 19 out of 20 players know about it. Absent hoses for people with decent but imperfect knowledge of Soviet history, it's the same problem as a tossup on St. Bernard or Brazza--quack quack quack EVERYONE BUZZ IN NOW.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
NotBhan
Rikku
Posts: 375
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:30 pm
Location: Parts Unknown

Post by NotBhan »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Ulugbek wrote:As for the notion that Astana is a ridiculous tossup answer-- it is the capital of a state that is the leading economic force in its region.
The facts that it is the capital of Kazakhstan and is not Almaty are the only things 19 out of 20 players know about it. Absent hoses for people with decent but imperfect knowledge of Soviet history, it's the same problem as a tossup on St. Bernard or Brazza--quack quack quack EVERYONE BUZZ IN NOW.
The name change from Aqmola and the construction work by bin Laden's older brother (half-brother, apparently) are things I've heard before -- I know I've heard the Aqmola clue in qb before.
"Keep it civil, please." -- Matt Weiner, 6/7/05
User avatar
Zip Zap Rap Pants
Yuna
Posts: 780
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:55 am
Location: Richmond/Williamsburg, VA
Contact:

Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

Also a lot of people could get it off of "new planned city" if they thought about it since the capital was moved to Astana from Almaty just to be more central and piss off less people. If this was a tossup about Brasilia structured in much the same way there would be less complaints simply because players are more used to it. I think the Astana tossup is a good example of introducing a less common answer with appropriate difficulty/level of player challenge. "Siberian Cossacks" kind of puts you in the general vicinity too, and that with "new planned city" should do it for a good number of players if the brain circuits connect properly (which is a big "if" when it comes to geography, since you have to put the clues together in such a way to get a tossup early/midway through).

Yeah with the Don river I'm suprised they didn't use a clue like "known as Tanais to the Greeks" or something more useful than the exact number of miles of things, plus I don't like clues within power marks that mention (in this case) a "certain canal" when the name of that canal/whatever the clue happens to be includes the answer.
Matt Morrison, William & Mary '10, Tour Guide &c., MA in History '12?

"All the cool people eat mangoes while they smoke blunts and do cannonballs off a trampoline into my hot tub..."
-Matt Weiner

“In beer there is strength,
In wine is wisdom,
In water is germs.”
-Unknown

new email: mpmorr at email dot wm dot edu
flashantenna
Lulu
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:20 am

Post by flashantenna »

Could somebody post the questions on Sufjan Stevens and The Shins? Thanks in advance.

Caleb
bornonatrain
Lulu
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:16 pm
Location: Gainesville

Post by bornonatrain »

I think the Sufjan question was a bonus, the first part asked to identify him based on mildly esoteric albums like A Sun Came and Enjoy Your Rabbit

The second part asked which two states he wrote albums about (way tough. :P)

The third part asked about which serial killer (Gacy) was mentioned in one of the songs on Illinois.

The other was a t/u in Div 2 as well, so I'll refrain.

...and actually, while I didn't hear the Sufjan bonus in Div 2, feel free to delete this if it was, because now I'm not sure.
User avatar
DumbJaques
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3086
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Post by DumbJaques »

If something was in div I, it's ok to talk about regardless of whether or not it was in div 2. Div 2 is a hybrid of div 1 and the other tournament. If something that was in div 1 could potentially appear in a yet unplayed tournament, nobody would be allowed to talk about div 1.
User avatar
First Chairman
Auron
Posts: 3875
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2003 8:21 pm
Location: Fairfax VA
Contact:

Post by First Chairman »

In my opinion, posting actual question texts for sets that have not cleared the authors is not kosher (copyright issues). You can IM each other all you want (oh, we don't have IM here?) but posting actual texts of active questions is not good policy.
Emil Thomas Chuck, Ph.D.
Founder, PACE
Facebook junkie and unofficial advisor to aspiring health professionals in quiz bowl
---
Pimping Green Tea Ginger Ale (Canada Dry)
bornonatrain
Lulu
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:16 pm
Location: Gainesville

Post by bornonatrain »

DumbJaques wrote:If something was in div I, it's ok to talk about regardless of whether or not it was in div 2. Div 2 is a hybrid of div 1 and the other tournament. If something that was in div 1 could potentially appear in a yet unplayed tournament, nobody would be allowed to talk about div 1.
Fair enough, but I actually heard the Shins t/u in Div 2, whereas I only recall reading the Sufjan bonus in Div 1 packets on the ride home, so I was, myself, unsure.

The Shins tossup (if it was, indeed, in both) lead in with something I don't recall, then mentioned the last song on the new album, some other songs on the new album, the name of the new album, then starting saying Caring is Creepy and some other known songs.
User avatar
jonpin
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 2213
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: BCA NJ / WUSTL MO / Hackensack NJ

Post by jonpin »

The Shins tossup was in both sets. Power went until right before Caring is Creepy if I'm not mistaken.
User avatar
cvdwightw
Auron
Posts: 3446
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Southern CA
Contact:

Post by cvdwightw »

I thought it was a repeat when I heard it, now I'm certain:
Division I Packet 9 Tossup 6 wrote:...It is the cathode material used in most cold fusion experiments...answer: palladium
Division I Packet 12 Tossup 15 wrote:"One approach to this process...Other attempts include the use of palladium cathodes in the electrolysis...answer: cold fusion...
User avatar
vetovian
Lulu
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:15 am
Contact:

Post by vetovian »

It's been over a week since the SCT, but here are some of my impressions that I scribbled down, now that I have a chance to post them. I was a reader of Div I questions, at the Brock site. I don't have a copy of the questions.

TOSSUPS:
Overall I was impressed with the tossups and thought they were well written and pyramidally structured. There were no tossups that listed a bunch of things and made players sit there and try to guess what they had in common; I actually like playing on the occasional such tossup, but judging from what I've read on this board, the people who post here hate them. I was amused to see the resurrection of "not" clues (as in "He's not X, but he did Y") after these were denounced by some players a few years ago. Also, some people in this discussion made reference to "NAcuties". There were a few at the end of some tossups, such as "globe's most powerful male" cluing "world's most powerful man", and "blue-water fountain" for Fontainebleau. Actually, "blue fountain" would be fontaine blEUE; I think the name Fontainebleau comes from "fontaine-bel-eau" for "beautiful-water fountain". Sorry to go into such detail, but I'd noticed the previous night that NAQT's suggested pronunciation of "bluh" (or however it was written) for the last syllable wasn't right, and it should be "blow"; this actually caused some problems when a player answered with the "bleu" pronunciation and at first I didn't accept it. He said that he thought it was spelled "Fontainebleu", and that he spoke French, and had been to Fontainebleau, and heard it pronounced with "bleu". Eventually I decided to award him the answer because of the NAQT rules suggestion that leeway be given for vowel sounds of foreign words.

PRONUNCIATION:
And that segues into the issue of pronunciation and guides thereto, which are intended to help the reader. I noticed that umlauts and other diacritical marks, which do help the reader who knows how to read them, were usually missing, but sometimes, erratically, they were present. Why not try to be consistent? Rarely, they were present but wrong, such as Graubünden being written as "Gräubunden" (which, if it were the correct spelling, should be pronounced "GROY-boon-den"; but a better pronunciation guide was included). The umlaut in Ernst Röhm's name was included, correctly, but the guide said to say it as "Rome". Then there was the Swiss cantons tossup that mentioned Jura but said to give it the (German) pronunciation of "YOO-ra", even though the whole reason why Jura became a new canton was that it was a French-speaking area in an otherwise majority-German-speaking existing canton, so "ZHOO-ra" would have been a more advised pronunciation to use. Overall, though, NAQT does a better job of pronunciation guides than most quiz bowl packets I've seen, not only for foreign words but for chemical terms, too, which is where they're needed most in English. What I'd suggest, though, is that NAQT go through the finished packets and (1) check that pronunciation guides are included where needed, and correct, and also (2) include ALL the umlauts, accents, cedillas, etc., in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese names and words (this being less important for more obscure languages because you're less likely to have readers being familiar with them). Following the second suggestion would not only assist moderators who can read those scripts, but it would also contribute to an appearance of thoroughness.

CANADIANA:
Canadian stuff was fairly well represented, but once again, it seemed to be concentrated in geography, AND for some reason the territories still received a disproportionate amount of geographical attention. Of the non-territorial Canadian geography, I thought the Vancouver Island tossup was an excellent example of pyramidality -- and I'm speaking as a geography buff who grew up with a view of Vancouver Island. Questions about Canadian history and literature were good, but sparse. One faux pas was calling J.K. Galbraith a Canadian (rather than "Canadian-born") economist and then saying he was ambassador to India (but not mentioning from which country).

BONUSES:
I'm pretty sure that if you count the number of column inches written about question writing on fora such as this one, you'll find a lot more about tossups than about bonuses. Most quiz bowlers have the same idea of the principles of what a tossup should be like and what makes one good or bad, but bonuses don't get talked about nearly as much, even though there's a much greater diversity in types of bonuses that come up. At this tournament, I think 90+% of the bonuses were of the form: "Blah blah, for 10 points each, blah blah; A. (single-answer question); B. (single-answer question); C. (single-answer question)." I guess players must not find the repetitiveness of the format quite as dull as I would. There were a handful of four-part bonuses (5-5-10-10, or 5-10-20-30 depending on number of correct answers) but progressive (30-20-10 or 15-5) bonuses were completely absent. I don't think there was a single bonus that asked for more than one answer in the same prompt. If this is the way people like their quiz bowl, then that's fine, of course, but bonuses used to have a much greater variety of formats. Fortunately, the bonuses were never long, as they are in some tournaments. There's also an aspect of some NAQT bonuses that makes them difficult to listen to (i.e., not recommended for broadcast), namely that the lead-in will use some convoluted phrasing that avoids stating some obviously relevant information such as the name of the person or book or country or whatever, in order that that piece of information can be asked for later in the question. In the bonus about Charter 77, the single most important thing to know about the subject -- what country did this happen in? -- was airbrushed out of the question, like Vladimir Clementis.

CURRENT EVENTS:
Maybe it's just me, but I thought that most of the questions on current events were on the easy side; I thought Div I is usually harder. I was wondering how NAQT might treat the assassination three weeks earlier of a prominent Turkish-Armenian activist with an interesting name, but he wasn't mentioned at all -- probably because he was deemed too obscure. As somebody else said, there were lots of questions that asked for associating countries with their current leaders. These were often written in the convoluted bonus form that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I guess NAQT writers hear about something happening in some country, see some answer they can use for one bonus part, and then use the country and leader for the other two parts.

SCIENCE:
Nobody brought this up, but I know that there are players here who are very concerned about the quality of science questions. Is there too much emphasis on names, on labels? A lot of the science questions at this SCT reminded me of what I heard at a masters tournament many years ago when I had two teammates who had spent years in physics labs and were quite familiar with various phenomena that got asked about in the questions, because they'd seen these phenomena themselves, but they weren't rewarded with points because they just didn't know what particular name is given to these particular "effects", or even that these effects were named after anyone. Is this a concern? Are science questions not rewarding actual science knowledge enough? On the other hand, there was one bonus that asked by what factor the radiation will increase if you double the temperature (in a situation where the Stefan-Boltzmann law applied, as I recall) -- a question that tests actual science knowledge, not whose name is given to which effect. But that question also required a calculation (albeit a simple one), and calculation questions seem to be out of favour, even among those who feel strongly about having good science questions.

OTHER MINOR IRRITANTS:
I think in one of the later bonuses that we didn't get to, there was a reference to Wikipedia, citing it as a source for the claim that some or most historians say that a certain person was among the worst of those who had held a certain official post, whatever it was. Also, I have a good idea of where the "four famous Australians" bonus came from: some NAQT writer may have heard the same recent Robert Hughes interview that I did, in which Hughes mentions the list that includes himself and three other expatriate Australians, and figured this would make a good bonus. Apparently the four were the subject of a book. I think that if you're going to write a question that mentions some gang of "four famous Australians" and you ask about three of them, you should say who the fourth one is, probably in the lead-in, and not just leave people wondering. In this case, the lead-in would have to mention Barry Humphries as the fourth famous Australian -- revealing that these four really are not famous in North America, and probably proving that the question had a flawed premise to begin with.
User avatar
DumbJaques
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3086
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Post by DumbJaques »

I do love my 2/2 Siberian landmarks. . .
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8425
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

I've put up a spreadsheet with all the SCT numbers at http://www.hsquizbowl.org/sct-data.xls , if anyone else wants to tinker with it. Here are some general trends if you want to look at difficulty.

Statistics for all D1 teams:

62 D-1 teams played
Total bonus conversion was 13.71
Median bonus conversion was 12.31

Statistics only reflecting the non-mixed fields (i.e., excluding Irvine and UBC) due to being opponent-dependent:

Percentage of tossups answered was 81.28%
Percentage of tossups powered was 13.76%
Mean unadjusted points scored by two teams per 20 tossups heard was 383.94 out of 900 or 42.66%
Mean adjusted points scored by two teams per 20 tossups heard was 385.47 out of 800 or 48.18%
(the last statistic discounts all -5s and treats all 15s as 10s, in order to allow a truer measurement of question accessibility that can be compared across tournaments)

Statistics for all D2 teams:

95 D-2 teams played
Total bonus conversion was 14.02
Median bonus conversion was 13.28

Statistics only reflecting the non-mixed fields (i.e., excluding Irvine and UBC) due to being opponent-dependent:

Percentage of tossups answered was 81.13%
Percentage of tossups powered was 12.27%
Mean unadjusted points scored by two teams per 20 tossups heard was 387.16 out of 900 or 43.02%
Mean adjusted points scored by two teams per 20 tossups heard was 392.89 out of 800 or 49.11%
(the last statistic discounts all -5s and treats all 15s as 10s, in order to allow a truer measurement of question accessibility that can be compared across tournaments)
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
setht
Auron
Posts: 1192
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 2:41 pm
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Post by setht »

I'm glad to see that the sports subdistribution fanatics can always be trumped by the scientists in derailing threads.

Moving on to more general thoughts: like Jerry, I thought this SCT was very good. In fact, I think this is the best SCT I've ever played. My memory for tournaments is terrible, but I think this claim is correct. In any case, I think this year's set did a great job of showing what NAQT could be, and I hope things continue at this level for many years to come. I guess the main thing I would suggest changing for future editions is the distribution--it doesn't need to change a ton, but some change along the lines indicated by the survey results would improve the product even more. After that, I think the next thing (as with pretty much every tournament) would be to work on bonus consistency--almost every bonus was within reasonable bounds of variability, with a fair number of bonuses that weren't too hard to 30, but then there were some bonuses that were rather hard to get 20 on.

I'm fine with the 2-second time limit on answering tossups. It's a bit of a shift from playing ACF/typical invitationals, but then so are powers, the clock, etc. I enjoy having some variety in the tournaments I play, and I think a 5-second time limit for answering tossups wouldn't work too well with a timed format.

Finally, jumping back into the discussion of labels vs. content in science questions: I think almost all of the science questions in a set have to ask for label-based answers. I don't think every science question has to do this, and I want to point to a bonus (in the DI set) of the form "electric field, electric potential, both or neither" that I thought was very good, and was entirely content-based: it asked important, very basic things (which of the two is a vector field?) that people learn even in high school level physics, with nary a part susceptible to the hypothetical player who spends all day memorizing lists of names of physics effects/equations. Without actually checking in detail, I would guess that NAQT generally does a better job of including this type of science question than ACF or any invitational tournament. Kudos to NAQT.

Regarding computation in science questions: I have no objection to it at the level of "if I double the effective temperature, by what factor does the luminosity increase, according to the Stefan-Boltzmann law." In fact, I like having occasional bonus parts along these lines, since I think it's good to test working familiarity. I think these bonus parts are almost never too obscure, but perhaps the non-scientists feel differently. I was going to write up something on why I don't think we should try to introduce computation tossups into the collegiate game, even though I enjoy them, but I'll just skip it.

-Seth
User avatar
AKKOLADE
Sin
Posts: 15636
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:08 am

Post by AKKOLADE »

To keep this a thread of general discussion regarding NAQT's SCTs, I've split the discussion of what science questions should ask about into a new thread. You can find this thread here.
Locked