TTGT 11 Discussion

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Post by walter12 » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:26 am

The Hurricane Rita tossup was buried at #22 and thus had absolutely no chance of being heard. When we were editing down to 21 tossups, I decided to keep a few extras in a couple of the packets (even if they weren't particularly good).

The River Styx tossup was also buried, in fact at #21 right before Hurricane Rita, and thus also didn't see play. If we had more time, I'm sure Mike or I would have written a more acceptable alternate to replace it.

Yeah, the waterboarding and water intoxication tossups weren't particularly good (you can definitely throw the heavy water tossup in there too). We did as much as we could with the water theme packet in the days leading up to the tournament, but when its like 3 AM the day of the tournament you're tempted to stop editing and play the questions as is.

You may be interested to know that the water theme packet was in fact used at the Iowa site, we needed a few more total packets than the Maryland site and decided to switch out geography (for being too hard) and the nudity packet (on account that some of my moderators weren't really comfortable reading it).

As for the dogs questions, I'll admit that the Michael Vick question was very guessable. The complaint about the Argos question is also valid, yet I don't think that it's particularly egregious. Not all questions in the dogs packets were about dog-related answers, they simply had a clue about dogs in them (like Kafka, Henry VIII, Darius III, and a bunch of others). The biggest problem with that tossup was possibly it being placed first in the packet, before players realized that answers need not directly relate to dogs.

Yeah, the British packet wasn't extremely balanced, either between disciplines or within disciplines. A lot of the science was also ridiculously "softcore". I'll take responsibility for not spending more time on this packet (contrary to Mike's prior statement it was "mostly edited", albeit not in a form that I would consider fully satisfactory).
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Post by Gautam » Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:07 pm

I don't mean to say you guy's weren't doing your job... sorry if that seemed to be my message. I can understand your difficulty given that there were so many packets. That's why I am saying people who write the packets shouldn't leave it up to the editors to consolidate it too much; if one commits to writing a packet, he/she might as well put in decent effort into it, right?

As for the Argus/Argos thing, I really was wondering why either is acceptable, but I amn't too well versed in greek myth, and I felt like it was just a vowel difference so whatever.

Actually, I should have said this earlier, but I didn't give credit where it was due. There were interesting Qs and As in every one of the packets I touched upon. For instance, the Nalgene in the water packet, the bingo in the dogs packet (I am no trash person but I thought it was cool 'cuz I would have gotten it eventually), and a bunch of others were clever answer choices, and the questions were well written. I really liked the Geography packet, although it was indeed quite hard. The themed bonuses were very nice :-). The bio packet was also pretty good

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Post by btressler » Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:52 pm

As the author of the dog packet, if you don't like it then put it down and read something else.

I note that in the 60 tossups read (3 Maryland matches using the packet), exactly 1 was powered. So pat yourself on the back for being such a great player and better than those in the competition.

As for the Argus controversy, I was probably looking at something like this during research:

http://classiclit.about.com/od/argusarg ... hology.htm

If in fact the names are not treated as synonymous in some cases, then I regret the error.

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Post by Auks Ran Ova » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:00 pm

Stat74 wrote:As the author of the dog packet, if you don't like it then put it down and read something else.

[...] So pat yourself on the back for being such a great player and better than those in the competition.
That's a lovely attitude to take towards constructive criticism.
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Post by btressler » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:11 pm

And it's actually a bit out of character for me too, but it is how I feel.

I didn't take his post to be constructive criticism. Certainly the tone of his post doesn't suggest it (e.g. the sarcasm of the "obvious" answers). I took it to be yet another person complaining about questions being too easy. My point was that he thought everybody was going to power everything "transparent" and yet that didn't happen.

The ironic part was that I and my playtesters agree in principle: we tried to construct the Michael Vick question without mentioning an athletic clue for the very reasons being discussed.

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Post by cornfused » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:22 pm

Stat74 wrote:As the author of the dog packet, if you don't like it then put it down
Intentional pun?

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Post by Gautam » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:52 pm

In retrospect, it seems like my thoughts got carried away when I was writing the initial post, and I was picking on things I didn't intend to touch. I apologize.

Let me restate:

1. The one on Argos/Argus, I really didn't know the answer by the first two clues. The use of the word "character", however, seemed to imply that the thing being mentioned in the third clue was human (at least that's what I thought) while it is talking about Odysseus's dog; that was original complaint. I guess there are more dogs than Arg(o/u)s that are tossupable, so my mocking of the answer choice is a reflection of my ignorance. Sorry.

2. The one on Vick, though, I still think was transparent. I admit that I won't be able to score more than 0 ppg at a trash tournament, so placing atheletic clues in the leadin wouldn't have helped me either. What I should say is something that comes from the guidelines for the Cvijanovich tournament, which is "please avoid "story-of-the-moment" questions" because most of the time they are really transparent.

I won't touch more on this topic. Sorry for having to restate so many things. I will get my message across clearly the next time.
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:06 pm

Stat74 wrote:As the author of the dog packet, if you don't like it then put it down and read something else.

I note that in the 60 tossups read (3 Maryland matches using the packet), exactly 1 was powered. So pat yourself on the back for being such a great player and better than those in the competition.
Can we not bring back the "no one held a gun to their heads" argument? There is a legitimate debate over whether your questions were transparent or not, and it smacks of arrogance to dismiss someone's argument in as self-righteous and disingenuous manner as you did.

Similarly, can we not beg the question with irrelevant information? The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty. There is no reason to accept your statement at face value, and lambasting others for not doing so is absurd.

Finally, keep your ad hominem attacks out of this. Gautam's skill level has nothing to do with the objective transparency of your questions.

It's one thing to defend questions that announce "In Greek myth, multiple people have this name, and it's related to dogs" in the first line, but it's entirely another to do it in a flagrantly pompous and uncalled-for manner that utilizes all sorts of fallacious logic.

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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:31 pm

DaGeneral wrote:EDIT: Also, Argus should not be acceptable, as he is a completely different figure.
Different from what? It's a common name tossup.
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Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:33 pm

To my knowledge, Argos is the dog of Odysseus, while Argus is the 100-eyed figure who guarded Io in cow form.

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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:35 pm

DaGeneral wrote:To my knowledge, Argos is the dog of Odysseus, while Argus is the 100-eyed figure who guarded Io in cow form.
Is there any real difference between these two names? Given the variety of name forms offen possessed by Greek mythological figures, I would be surprised if the vowel difference was anything other than two different instances of transliteration. Greek experts, feel free to let me know if I'm wrong on this one.
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Post by DakarKra » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:41 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
DaGeneral wrote:To my knowledge, Argos is the dog of Odysseus, while Argus is the 100-eyed figure who guarded Io in cow form.
Is there any real difference between these two names? Given the variety of name forms offen possessed by Greek mythological figures, I would be surprised if the vowel difference was anything other than two different instances of transliteration. Greek experts, feel free to let me know if I'm wrong on this one.
The names are the same. In Greek, both figures are Argos (with an omicron) and in Latin both figures are Argus (short final u). It's just a matter of someone somewhere deciding to differentiate the two by using the Latin for the giant and the Greek for the dog. The names appear to come from some adjective meaning "brilliant" in a very vague sense (a very common meaning for all Greek adjectives). The names are the same and both should be accepted for questions talking about either one.

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Post by Howard » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:11 pm

gkandlikar wrote:Comment: Wtf. I don't really see why pH is being tossuped here. It could have been a doggy biology tossup and it would have been much better.
At this point, I don't see how anyone can claim constructive criticism. While I'm not defending the tone of Bill's post, certainly anytime "wtf" is used, the user should expect a hostile response. To make matters worse, this rude comment was used because the critic didn't like the subject of the question. People criticizing questions need to realize that the questions are not written specifically for them. And realistically, if we cannot keep question criticism to civil tones, all the discussion threads will eventually turn into flame wars.
theMoMA wrote:
Stat74 wrote:I note that in the 60 tossups read (3 Maryland matches using the packet), exactly 1 was powered.
Similarly, can we not beg the question with irrelevant information? The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty. There is no reason to accept your statement at face value, and lambasting others for not doing so is absurd.
As I saw it, the claim was that the power lead-ins were transparent. If the power percentage isn't the best indicator we have of this, I'm not sure what is.
gkandlikar wrote:Comment: Hey, a torture technique, which has something to do with water. Buzz Buzz?
I've been arguing that this is something underrepresented in quiz bowl. I know there are many who disagree with me, but I believe questions like this require deeper mental process than simple recollection, the most common ability tested by our beloved pyramidal questions. I'd like to see more leadins with this type of prompting. It gives the participants something to try to reason while the question continues toward other things which test recall.
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Post by DumbJaques » Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:41 pm

To make matters worse, this rude comment was used because the critic didn't like the subject of the question.
Uh, no? He was saying that pH didn't fit in a dog packet. And he was right in that it was clearly forced (the question mentioned that the pH of dog blood is somewhere around 7.4 - at the end). I think that's what more drew the "wtf," so it wasn't really that rude. I do understand why Bill took it harshly, and it probably could have been phrased a little better. We all know Bill is capable of responding in a reasoned, constructive way, but it isn't particularly easy to do when you're personally under the gun like that. Most of the questions were well-written. In particular, I think that's about as well as you can write a Michael Vick question, even in a dog packet. In any event he wasn't complaining because he didn't like chem questions or whatever.
I've been arguing that this is something underrepresented in quiz bowl. I know there are many who disagree with me, but I believe questions like this require deeper mental process than simple recollection, the most common ability tested by our beloved pyramidal questions. I'd like to see more leadins with this type of prompting. It gives the participants something to try to reason while the question continues toward other things which test recall.
Yeah, we know you'd like more questions that start with "figure it out" clues in college quizbowl. One of the inherent problems of theme packets is that they end up like that sometimes, Bill's questions did about as good a job as you could with that theme of not doing that. The point is that figure it out questions destroy the very principles of pyramidal questions, so calling for some kind of question that begins with a figure it out then becomes pyramidal doesn't make any sense. Certainly questions are already written with things that promote this kind of mental activity a bit (lots of pyramidal questions try to say something without actually saying it in one line, then give the actual term or buzzword in the next clue), but anything more than this is going to start degrading the whole idea of rewarding knowledge. I think it's insulting to Bill's questions to categorize them as figure it out (they weren't, and any degree to which they were is really just a function of the TTGT11 format), and it certainly isn't a valid criticism of complaints about the water packet being too transparent. Essentially, you responded to "this tossup on water boarding is horribly antipyramidal because it establishes that it's a torture technique involving water" with "pyramidal questions should promote logic and reasoning over knowledge." Argh.
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:39 pm

Howard wrote:
theMoMA wrote:
Stat74 wrote:I note that in the 60 tossups read (3 Maryland matches using the packet), exactly 1 was powered.
Similarly, can we not beg the question with irrelevant information? The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty. There is no reason to accept your statement at face value, and lambasting others for not doing so is absurd.
As I saw it, the claim was that the power lead-ins were transparent. If the power percentage isn't the best indicator we have of this, I'm not sure what is.
What part of "The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty." is hard to understand? A concept of transparency exists whether people at the tournament were buzzing on transparent questions or not.

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Post by The Atom Strikes! » Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:47 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Howard wrote:
theMoMA wrote:
Stat74 wrote:I note that in the 60 tossups read (3 Maryland matches using the packet), exactly 1 was powered.
Similarly, can we not beg the question with irrelevant information? The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty. There is no reason to accept your statement at face value, and lambasting others for not doing so is absurd.
As I saw it, the claim was that the power lead-ins were transparent. If the power percentage isn't the best indicator we have of this, I'm not sure what is.
What part of "The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty." is hard to understand? A concept of transparency exists whether people at the tournament were buzzing on transparent questions or not.
But how do you plan to objectively measure question transparency without a statistical measure like say, power percentage?
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:21 pm

Um, how about "this question is transparent because it fits the definition of transparency"? It doesn't take a correlation coefficient to figure out what you shouldn't do in the leadin of a question in a theme packet.

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Post by The Atom Strikes! » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:38 pm

Doesn't empirical evidence of how the question actually worked out in play trump a theoretical interpretation? We know that, for example, NAQT's IS-70 set was terrible because it resulted in buzzer races for powers, hose-ish negs, and people not buzzing on tossups because they didn't expect repeats. The way that teams actually played the rounds at Princeton that day showed that the packets were terrible. However, if a question that allegedly had a transparent lead-in did not provoke the typical expected effect of a transparent lead-in, that is, a buzzer race for power, then the lead-in can't have actually been that transparent. And in this situation, I think that the data set used to derive the statistic was valid: the participants certainly not the sort of inexperienced novice players that would void the validity of a statistic like power percentage. However, I think that it would be more constructive to argue about this is we had the comparable statistics from the mirror tournaments as well.
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:47 pm

Doesn't empirical evidence of how the question actually worked out in play trump a theoretical interpretation?
...no?

Look, your logic is astoundingly ridiculous. We can define transparency outside of games between various people in the state of Maryland, and suggesting that the game outcomes of whoever played there somehow affect that definition is outlandish.

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Post by walter12 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:41 am

In case anybody actually cares, I just looked through our scoresheets for the Dogs Theme Packet at the Iowa site. The powered tossups were as follows:

Drake vs. Depauw: 0 powers on 19 tossups answered
UIUC vs. Wisconsin: 3 powers on 20 tossups answered (Canary Islands, Dogberry, Vick)
Truman State vs. Iowa State: 0 powers on 17 tossups answered
St.Olaf/Macalester vs. Michigan State: 0 powers on 18 tossups answered
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Post by Captain Sinico » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:02 am

Myth is rife with dogs (Laelaps, motherfucker? Do you speak it?) I thought this was an okay question. If you want to reflex buzz off that, I wish you luck.

MaS

PS: Uhm, I think Argus is just a different transliteration of Argos and, in fact, should be acceptable.
DaGeneral wrote:
gkandlikar wrote:
ANSWER: Argos/Argus
Power clue: One character by this name was a son of Zeus and Niobe who succeeded Apis as king of Phoronea. Another had the labors of freeing Arcadia and killing Satyr, while a third is seen "lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung" (*) and could not get up to greet those entering.
Comment: Greek myth + dog = Argos/Argus. Are there really more dogs that are tossupable?
There is this dog that has three heads that resides in the underworld. If they wanted to go more obscure, they could have used Orthus, the dog that guarded the cattle of Geryon and a brother of Cerberus.

EDIT: Also, Argus should not be acceptable, as he is a completely different figure.
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Post by DumbJaques » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:55 am

Laelaps, motherfucker
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Post by Captain Sinico » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:27 am

Howard wrote:...I know there are many who disagree with me, but I believe questions like [one obviously requesting a torture technique related to water and having answer waterboarding] require deeper mental process than simple recollection, the most common ability tested by our beloved pyramidal questions. I'd like to see more leadins with this type of prompting. It gives the participants something to try to reason while the question continues toward other things which test recall.
I don't think anyone's arguing anything about the "depth" of mental processes involved at all. I argue that such a question is undesirable because it's very easy to get it very early without knowing or reasoning much of anything at all. Lots of questions require one to draw connections; question quality is an issue, then, of what kind of connections and what level of stuff one needs to know to draw those connections.
In this case, the required connection is of the most shallow type (the name of one of the associated things is literally half of the answer) and the level of knowledge required to draw the connection is very low (just hearing the name "water boarding" in connection to torture is presumably enough.) I don't think either of those things is desirable; the question basically reduces to a test of the will to guess (or buzzer speed, if everyone is willing to guess.) That's because nearly everyone will have the knowledge and reasoning skills to immediately draw this connection.
Another problem with shallow reasoning-type questions in general is that they do not have unique answers. Cueing people in that the answer is a method of torture involving water could lead someone to guess, say, "Chinese water torture" or "dunking the heads of a person whom your boss says owes him money into a toilet" or something else; in other words, it introduces a large element of luck and punishes knowledge. I don't think either of those is desirable, either.

MaS

Edit: fixed number agreement.
Last edited by Captain Sinico on Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by yoda4554 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:43 am

theMoMA wrote: Look, your logic is astoundingly ridiculous. We can define transparency outside of games between various people in the state of Maryland, and suggesting that the game outcomes of whoever played there somehow affect that definition is outlandish.
Only joining in this in response to the invective. There is in fact nothing particular ridiculous about the argument; indeed, it's the other side that's a bit flimsy. Particularly when dealing with transparency, it's very easy to construct, after the fact with the whole question in front of you, a causal chain by which the first clue gives the whole thing away. Such things rarely occur to people playing in match situations.

To take a (well-written, I think) example from CO Lit, against which I heard no charges of transparency leveled:
Magin wrote: ANSWER: John Milton
Power clue: This author warned "New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large" in a sonnet criticizing the "New Forcers of Conscience."
Now, it's very easy to look at this after the fact and note, "Well, of course it's Milton, because even if you don't know that he had issues with Presbyterians, surely the players at a high-level tournament will know that the Scottish Presbyterians played a critical role in restoring the British monarchy, and so who else but the Roundhead Poet Laureate is going to be writing sonnets criticizing their political structure?" And I'm not even sure that there's much wrong with that logic. Except that it's hard to really be sure, because lots of people do things that don't make particular sense with their public profile; for all a player knows, Andrew Marvell might have lost a bet to a Presbyterian in 1654 and wrote a pissy sonnet in response. And by the time you decide to dismiss that, the question's already talking about how the guy's light is spent, and it's a moot point.

This line of inquiry has responded to the dog packet; there are some valid criticisms of the water one, but not really this. Yeah, it's easy to say lawsuits+dogs= Michael Vick now, but in the game you would have had to felt so confident in your encyclopedic knowledge of Snoop Dogg's (among other Dog-named people) brushes with the law to actually buzz on those clues, or actually have known about those lawsuits. The objections to Argos have already been dismissed; I would add that there's no reason to think it would stay Greek myth the whole way, and not instead turn into a relatively common name that is also shared by some notable dog (no examples come to mind, but it would take a long time to ascertain that there are no such examples). Gautam already qualified the Dogs Playing Poker in the manner that I would (and I don't know that Dogberry's that ridiculous, either, especially if the theme's helping you with his name by the end).

In short, looking at actual data is important not only because answerability in question sets is only relevant in terms of the set's intended audience, but to keep one grounded and away from overenthusiastic Monday morning armchair buzzing.

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Post by theMoMA » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:02 pm

The connection between powers and transparency is tenuous at best. You have to make a lot of assumptions about the field for the data to be useful. And what I'm saying is that it's begging the question to dismiss an argument about question transparency citing only power data. Doing so shirks all reasonable form of discourse and logic.

Dave, I think your post is an example of how transparency debate should be undertaken. We all do need to realize that once you see the whole question different issues crop up that don't for the people playing. However, that doesn't mean that it's not absurd on its face to claim that debate must end if no one in some arbitrary location powered the question in question. A definition of transparency exists outside of game results in Maryland, and it defies all logic to claim that the latter necessarily defines the former.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:19 pm

I thought that "Dogs" was fine on the whole and played much better than various people's criticisms would seem to indicate. That said, I thought that the questions were transparent in a few cases. I didn't play the "Water" packet, but it looks like a worse packet (albeit still an okay one in the grand scheme of things) with the same issues to a greater extent.
I only had one power on the dogs packet, but I think more could have been had if I'd gone in with the best-known dog-related answer when it first occurred to me. However, I waited for a uniquely identifying clue I knew since, in each case, I didn't actually know the answer ("it just could be a different dog-related Shakespeare character..." etc.) In short, I played the packet one way (wait for a clue I know then buzz; I call this one "McKenzian"), when a better strategy might have been to play it in another way (buzz and guess the first answer that comes to mind when it comes to mind; I call this one "CBIsh.")
So, I think that brings up a rather subtle point about transparency. The answer to a transparent question is usually not obvious per se; rather, each team probably has people who have correctly guessed the answer more or less immediately ("seen through" the question.) It is likely that those people know their answer is just a guess, so power/early buzz numbers depend on how willing to guess the players are (which varies by player, tournament, packet, etc.) and may not be inflated in the end.
So, for example, a tossup on Marduk that begins "This Babylonian god..." is transparent, but not obvious (in the way that a tossup on Marduk that begins, say, "The chief god of the city of Babylon..." is.) From the transparent question, a lot of people will guess Marduk because it's far-and-away the best-known answer that fits that clue. However, most of those same people likewise know there are many other Babylonian gods, so they may not buzz with their guess.
I dislike transparent questions for two reasons. First, they do admit a CBIsh strategy, which is not the kind of quizbowl I prefer. Secondly, even when a match is played with a more McKenzian strategy, I find getting questions (for whatever reason) that a lot of the rest of the room had already guessed the answer to much less satisfying than getting them because I definitively know more. Of course, you're free to like and write whatever you want.

MaS
Last edited by Captain Sinico on Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Time Keeper » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:20 pm

Howard wrote:
I've been arguing that this is something underrepresented in quiz bowl. I know there are many who disagree with me, but I believe questions like this require deeper mental process than simple recollection, the most common ability tested by our beloved pyramidal questions. I'd like to see more leadins with this type of prompting. It gives the participants something to try to reason while the question continues toward other things which test recall.
Figuring out what the "Waterboarding" tossup was going for didn't require anything close to reasoning ability. Let's not give terrible questions undeserved credit by claiming that they ask the player to think. Similarly, questions that really do require the player to "figure it out" as opposed to "know stuff" almost always tend to suck and I'd love to see an example that shows otherwise. Real quizbowl exists in order to get away from that CBI-esque garbage.

Edit: The rest of the "Water" packet seems okay in many places, but using the aforementioned tossup in a water-themed packet just isn't going to work in any conceivable way.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:44 pm

Yeah, I'll join to say that lots of stat-related arguments are meaningless, and looking at how many people powered something in this case is a good example of that.

Dave is certainly correct that a question which seems transparent in retrospect can seem perfectly fine to people playing the question...and it's tough to put yourself in the mind of someone hearing the questions, not looking at them on their computer. But, when you stick a clue that encourages guessing at the beginning of a question - the whole rest of the question starts to feel like an exercise in game theory: who will be the first to decide that it's worth the risk to bite on the clue and guess? It's frustrating to have to be preoccupied with "calculating risk" in a quizbowl match - "let's see, that first clue has narrowed it down to four possible answers - now I need to decide how likely each of those answers is given the difficulty/packet writer/theme/whatever-the-hell-else-might-be-relevant and then I need to figure out how risk averse the other team is and then I need to decide whether all those factors merit me buzzing and saying what I think is the most likely answer here."

It's a lot more fun and rewarding to sit there and listen to clues and buzz when you think you know something, confident that it's not productive to just start guessing wildly. Like Mike says, a lot of good players generally stick to this strategy (McKenzianism)...at least until they become fed up with the packet because other players are being rewarded for guessing. I don't think the questions here are hideous, but many of them are just objectively transparent...then again, theme packets aren't the easiest to write successfully.

My point is: If you really think that tossup on waterboarding is great, then you're probably the type of person who doesn't mind quizbowl being significantly a game of chance. You probably don't mind questions that require you to "figure them out" by drawing tenuous conclusions. Fine, but this smacks of NAQT (I'm being nicer than people who reference CBI in this thread) and it doesn't reward pure knowledge.

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Post by btressler » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:43 pm

Now that I've calmed down, I will apologize for the tone of my post. My reaction was due to about five frustrating things all on the same day.

Because I love this tournament, hope it gets mirrored in the Mid-Atlantic again, and will probably contribute a packet again, I would like to better understand what is being said here. Could people post theme round questions that they think are good and say why? Thanks.

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Post by Howard » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:11 pm

DumbJaques wrote:Uh, no? He was saying that pH didn't fit in a dog packet. And he was right in that it was clearly forced (the question mentioned that the pH of dog blood is somewhere around 7.4 - at the end). I think that's what more drew the "wtf," so it wasn't really that rude
Sorry. I posted in haste and chose my words poorly. I should have indicated that the complaint was about answer selection, not subject. While I think this would qualify as a pH tossup which has been oddly modified to fit into the "dog" category, it's certainly not deserving of "wtf." "Wtf" is nearly always rude and offensive, especially if it's the lead remark prior to any explanation.
theMoMa wrote:What part of "The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty." is hard to understand? A concept of transparency exists whether people at the tournament were buzzing on transparent questions or not.
If powering questions doesn't relate to lead-in transparency, then this transparency, as you define it, has little to do with question quality or playability, making all the discussion about transparency a moot point. Isn't playability of the questions what we're actually talking about here?

Not to mention, the above quote, along with
theMoMa wrote:Look, your logic is astoundingly ridiculous.
is incredibly rude. People who've responded have been remarkably polite, considering.

Calling logic ridiculous doesn't make it so. Being fallacious makes logic ridiculous.
DumbJaques wrote:Certainly questions are already written with things that promote this kind of mental activity a bit (lots of pyramidal questions try to say something without actually saying it in one line, then give the actual term or buzzword in the next clue), but anything more than this is going to start degrading the whole idea of rewarding knowledge.


I made a quick call about whether to post on this subject in this thread, and perhaps it was the wrong one. On the one hand, I thought the waterboarding question served as an excellent example of things I'd like to promote. On the other hand, this discussion is probably better suited for elsewhere (especially not in the collegiate section) under different circumstances. I understand the arguments made by Chis, Mike, Pat, and others, and to a large extent agree that it's nearly impossible to test thought process and knowledge simultaneously. At the very least, I'm not trying to tell anyone what their own preferences should be.
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Post by theMoMA » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:46 pm

Howard wrote:
theMoMa wrote:What part of "The assumption that because no one is powering your questions, they are not objectively transparent is tenuous and faulty." is hard to understand? A concept of transparency exists whether people at the tournament were buzzing on transparent questions or not.
If powering questions doesn't relate to lead-in transparency, then this transparency, as you define it, has little to do with question quality or playability, making all the discussion about transparency a moot point. Isn't playability of the questions what we're actually talking about here?

Not to mention, the above quote, along with
theMoMa wrote:Look, your logic is astoundingly ridiculous.
is incredibly rude. People who've responded have been remarkably polite, considering.

Calling logic ridiculous doesn't make it so. Being fallacious makes logic ridiculous.
I don't know why you felt the need to necro this discussion that had seemingly come to a peaceful conclusion, but I suggest you read the QBWiki article about transparency, which is excellent. The relevant section is under "practical definition."

Don't put words in my mouth. I'm not (and never have been!) talking about playability. I'm talking about objective quality. Look, under your definition, it wouldn't matter if the questions were nothing more than popsicle-stick riddles, as long as the stats looked fairly normal at the game's conclusion. I hold that this is patently outlandish, and you need to take a long look at what you're saying before you try to lecture me on what I can and cannot call ridiculous.

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Post by Gautam » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:08 pm

Stat74 wrote: Because I love this tournament, hope it gets mirrored in the Mid-Atlantic again, and will probably contribute a packet again, I would like to better understand what is being said here. Could people post theme round questions that they think are good and say why? Thanks.
Since I started this discussion, I should also address your request. However, I am doing finals studying right now and I hope that you won't mind if it's posted post-19th of December.
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Post by Howard » Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:38 pm

theMoMA wrote:I don't know why you felt the need to necro this discussion that had seemingly come to a peaceful conclusion....
.
I hadn't looked at the board since my last post in this section, about three days prior. I read the new posts and didn't think it was necessary to check the post times to see whether the thread was stale. Regardless, I felt it necessary to point out that there seemed no evidence to back up the "ridiculous logic" assertion in addition to the other couple things I wanted to post.
theMoMA wrote:...I suggest you read the QBWiki article about transparency, which is excellent. The relevant section is under "practical definition."

Don't put words in my mouth. I'm not (and never have been!) talking about playability. I'm talking about objective quality.
After reading this post, and prior to reading the wiki, I though I was beginning to understand our differences. It seemed like you were talking about some sort of a theoretical transperency, while I was talking about a transparency that affected gameplay. But, after reading the wiki, I'm left more confused.
QBWiki wrote:Transparency
Transparency is one of the hallmarks of bad question writing. It is generally defined as a mismatch between the distribution of points where the question is answered and the distribution of places where the question should be answered.

Theoretical Definition
A tossup is transparent if logic and reasoning, stock clues, or inappropriate pyramidality narrow the possible answer space to one answer before uniquely identifying, "hard" clues appear. Occasionally, transparency can be cited if a giveaway clue appears in the middle of the question; however, transparency is usually reserved for lead-in clues.

Practical Definition
Transparency is difficult to determine from statistics, because one of the following four cases will occur during any transparent tossup:
1. A buzzer race before the power mark or equivalent place in the question. Both teams complain about the tossup.
2. One team buzzes early, while the other team does not know what just happened. The team that got the tossup complains about it. This typically happens when the team that does not get the tossup is composed of novices who are still learning mid-level and giveaway clues and have not been around long enough to recognize stock clues.
3. One team buzzes early, while the other team stares in disbelief that the question could be "that easy". Both teams complain about the tossup.
4. Both teams wait for more information, unable to believe that the question could be "that easy". A buzzer race ensues on a later clue. Upon revelation of the answer, both teams complain about the tossup.

Since none of these cases can be inferred from available data except in rare cases, practical definitions of transparency often hinge on post-tournament anecdotes.
After reading this article, I note that the definitions and the examples rely on the playability of the question. Furthermore, look at the examples in the Practical Definition. In each of the first three cases, I argue that if we're indeed talking about leadin transparency, a power should occur. By the same token, I agree that in the fourth of the three cases, it won't. In the specific case of TTGT11, power marks were present, so I'd argue that power percentage is indeed a reasonable (although not all-encompassing) indicator. Certainly I'd find it hard to believe that a majority of the teams would fall into the fourth example in most circumstances.
theMoMA wrote:Look, under your definition, it wouldn't matter if the questions were nothing more than popsicle-stick riddles, as long as the stats looked fairly normal at the game's conclusion. I hold that this is patently outlandish, and you need to take a long look at what you're saying before you try to lecture me on what I can and cannot call ridiculous.
I don't think I made any such all-encompassing statements about statistics. While I do think power percentage is a good indicator of lead-in transparency, I don't think there will ever be statistics that will be good indicators of all the things either you or I think are bad about quizbowl.

I was under the impression that the current discussion is predicated on the fact that power marks were present. Certainly, if they're not, there's no way to statistically measure transparency. Presuming a packet has pyramidal questions which typically have appropriate clue placement, it's likely that a similar number of teams will get the question correct simply based on the level of the easiest clue in each question.

I have no idea how you'd put a power mark in a one-line riddle. Not only is there no room for power, but there'd be no pyramidality, making it impossible for the transparency definition to apply. As such, without knowing what we're attempting to measure, we cannot even create a statistic to measure such a thing.

And I'm not attempting to criticize you for disagreeing with an argument. I'm saying you haven't made your case, meaning that your claim of faulty logic is simply a statement with little or no support. When I see someone make a statement that, at least on the surface, appears to have merit, I'm not likely to dismiss it just because the logic is claimed to be faulty. I'd like to see significant support to the faulty logic claim.
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Post by DumbJaques » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:17 pm

And I'm not attempting to criticize you for disagreeing with an argument. I'm saying you haven't made your case, meaning that your claim of faulty logic is simply a statement with little or no support. When I see someone make a statement that, at least on the surface, appears to have merit, I'm not likely to dismiss it just because the logic is claimed to be faulty. I'd like to see significant support to the faulty logic claim.
Good Christ. Ok, here's how it works:

Four hsers from (insert your favorite school)'s D team play against four hsers from the same school's C team. They play on horrible questions with woefully transparent leadins that undeniably make a question bad (they establish the answer through a quick step of lateral thinking, they accidentally say something really obvious early, whatever, read the playing against the packet thread). Neither team powers a single question, in fact they don't convert many of them despite the fact that they're not that hard.

Matt Weiner, Jerry, Magin, and Eric, the team that dominated on difficult Illinois Open questions, play the same packet against another amazing team and there are like 19 total powers. They might play a high school packet, and get 19 total powers even if the questions weren't transparent.

A question is not transparent/non-transparent because of how some random group performed on it. Transparency is an intrinsic quality that is present even if the team playing it lacks the knowledge to power the questions, and can be lacking even if the team has amazing knowledge and powers almost every questions. In this sense any real attempt to use powers to "measure" transparency isn't really meaningful either. If you still have trouble understanding this concept, read the "playing against the packet" thread and your queries should be answered.
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Post by Howard » Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:10 pm

I've been following the "playing the packet" thread and find it not only interesting, but full of good question-writing principles.

That aside, I agree it's easy to construct a scenario where transparency doesn't result in power. Furthermore, I agree it's necessary to be able to detect transparancy in the question-writing process (as already mentioned in the "playing the packet" thread).

I don't agree that it's likely there will be a tournament where the team matchups pit C and D (or whatever you'd like to use to denote teams ill-equipped to notice the transparency) to the extent this greatly disturbs tournament statistics. If this were a novice tournament, I'd surely buy into that argument. But for a tournament with a typical distribution of teams, power percentage on each question would seem to be a relatively good indicator. Questions with high power percentages can be flagged and reviewed to determine the issue, if any.
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Post by theMoMA » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:04 pm

Look, we've already constructed numerous scenarios under which one would not obtain power from a transparent question. It doesn't just have to do with what teams are there, because there are plenty of other reasons not to buzz on a transparent question. That doesn't make it any less detrimental or frustrating to play on.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:50 am

I just want to hold up the classical music packet as an exemplar of perfect writing about music, and all aspiring editors should hold it to the highest standard in their references. Many thanks to you, Willie Chen, for demonstrating to the world what real quizbowl should be like.
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Post by walter12 » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:33 am

Just to make things clear, the Classical Music packet was "edited" but didn't see play at either the Iowa or the Maryland sites. We decided to include several extra packets in the complete question set.

I'm not sure what happened with the packet at the California mirror though.
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