Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

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Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

Hello,

All of the mirrors are now complete, and I have sent Chris Carter the set and it will be posted sometime soon. Of course, I look forward to reading your comments and appreciate your criticisms, I am a much better writer (believe it or not) because of this board and will hope to apply your critiques going forward. Also, while constructive criticism is always fantastic, I enjoy a good piece of invective now and then even if it is directed at me (If you can't be constructive be funny). If you just can't wait for them to be posted you can e-mail me at: aragab at mail dot usf dot edu for a copy of the set.

A couple of provisional statements to begin the discussion, all tallied I am directly responsible for writing 80-90% of the content and I am completely responsible for all of the editing. So, it is likely that despite my best efforts that the answer selection, structure and stylistic features of the questions suffered from some idiosyncrasies or even myopia. This is not meant as an exculpation, but merely as something to frame the discussion. Feel free to point out questions that contained anti-pyramidal content, transparencies, etc. and better yet tell me how I might avoid them in the future.

My target difficulty was harder than ACF Regionals, but no more difficult that ACF Nationals. Statistically, I am not sure how this played out.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the questions, generally or specifically, and I would especially appreciate any particular insight on any specific improvements I could make in future writing endeavors. I worked very hard on this set, and I really enjoyed writing it, and would like to do it again next year with mirrors at various sites and position the tournament after ACF Nationals, in the early part of the summer, as a kind of "warm-up" to the Chicago Open.

Again, thanks in advance for your comments.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

I am curious to see what the distribution for this tournament was. Some categories seemed overrepresented (literary criticism, for instance), while others seemed underrepresented (history, economics, painting, geography) compared to a regular mACF tournament. I went into this tournament pretty much expecting the distribution to reflect your personal interests, so it didn't come as a surprise, but I would be interested in finding out what the actual numbers ended up being.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

Tournament Distribution:
Literature 54/54
Science 41/41
Math 14/14
History 54/54
Religion 14/14
Mythology 14/14
Philosophy 14/14
Social Science 14/14
Visual Fine Arts 14/14
Music 14/14
Other Fine Arts 14/14
General Knowledge/Pop Culture 14/14
Geography 7/7

To speak to the specific sub-categories which you mentioned as overrepresented:
Literary Criticism: 3/4

Underrepresented:
Painting: 8/8
Economics: 4/2
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

Is 1:1:1 distribution of visual arts, music, and other arts a common practice nowadays? I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but I really don't think other arts (I'm guessing things like classical movie, photography, and jazz) should have the same distribution as more traditional art mediums.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Damn. My really long post on this got lost somehow, and I don't have the stomach to rewrite it (the sighs of relief are audible).

To summarize: I loved the questions, thought it was great to hear questions on May '68 and the Zanj revolt and such. But I wonder if the answer space for tosses and many bonus parts wasn't too much for all but the top teams. That doesn't matter as much at the mirror sites, I imagine, with a greater concentration of strong and experienced teams, but in Florida there are only a couple teams (UF, FSU, and USF, the last of which didn't field its top team, obviously) who could hang on those questions. This is a critique of the strength of the game in our state more than a critique of the questions, but a cursory glance at the bonus conversion in Chicago and, with the exception of the top 2-3 teams, Maryland shows that they played pretty hard there, too. I know this was a summer tournament, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better for future iterations to have an answer space more accessible (though not necessarily traditionally canonical) than our expectations for ACF Regionals (I know, not a difficulty level, but you know what I mean). Lead-ins can still be written to challenge and differentiate the top teams, but answers are gettable enough to provide interesting matches for the rest of the field.

Also, I think this is the hardest bonus I've ever seen; I'm curious how it was converted at the mirrors:

They were the quintessential Russian wits. Answer questions about them, for 10 points each:
[10] Born in 1897 and 1903 respectively, in then-Tsarist Odessa, these two satirists set out on a ten-week road trip
across the United States in 1935, armed with a Leica camera to investigate the hidden America, far from "the
despairing screams of stockbrokers rushing through the skyscrapers waving their ever-falling shares."
ANSWER: Ilya Ilf and Yevgeniy Petrov [both names required]
[10] Ilf and Petrov are fondly remembered for this wildly popular 1928 work, in which former baron Vorobianinov
sets off on a manic quest to find a trove of family jewels, supposedly hidden from the Bolsheviks in the titular pieces
of furniture. In 1970, it was made into a slapstick comedy starring Mel Brooks.
ANSWER: The Twelve Chairs
[10] The Twelve Chairs marks the first appearance of this street-smart swindler, son of a Turkish bey, who also
appears in The Golden Calf, blackmailing his way to Turkestan, and as grandmaster of the Interplanetary Chess
Congress, in that titular tale. In Russia, his name has become synonymous with con-man.
ANSWER: Ostap Bender

But that difficulty doesn't bother me; at least it's interesting!
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

ValenciaQBowl wrote: They were the quintessential Russian wits. Answer questions about them, for 10 points each:
[10] Born in 1897 and 1903 respectively, in then-Tsarist Odessa, these two satirists set out on a ten-week road trip
across the United States in 1935, armed with a Leica camera to investigate the hidden America, far from "the
despairing screams of stockbrokers rushing through the skyscrapers waving their ever-falling shares."
ANSWER: Ilya Ilf and Yevgeniy Petrov [both names required]
[10] Ilf and Petrov are fondly remembered for this wildly popular 1928 work, in which former baron Vorobianinov
sets off on a manic quest to find a trove of family jewels, supposedly hidden from the Bolsheviks in the titular pieces
of furniture. In 1970, it was made into a slapstick comedy starring Mel Brooks.
ANSWER: The Twelve Chairs
[10] The Twelve Chairs marks the first appearance of this street-smart swindler, son of a Turkish bey, who also
appears in The Golden Calf, blackmailing his way to Turkestan, and as grandmaster of the Interplanetary Chess
Congress, in that titular tale. In Russia, his name has become synonymous with con-man.
ANSWER: Ostap Bender
This is probably the best bonus ever written. I would have 30d it, but Ted Gioia denied me that sweet, sweet pleasure by answering the tossup. Who does that guy think he is anyway?
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

aestheteboy wrote:Is 1:1:1 distribution of visual arts, music, and other arts a common practice nowadays?
Indeed, it is not a common practice, and not one that should predominate in other mACF-style or ACF sanctioned events, but I don't think a moderate modification of the fine arts distribution is necessarily a destructive move, and it offers some interesting expansions of answer space. But to be clear, I placed photography in the visual arts distribution and jazz within the music distribution leaving architecture and film essentially as the "other" category.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by cdcarter »

The set is now available at this link. Enjoy!
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by marnold »

Any tournament that lets me get a tossup on O Superman can't be bad.

Speaking as a mediocre player, this was an enjoyable set. I got to buzz on things I love that never come up (off the top of my head, things I remember in that category include Les Gommes, Sun Ra, THE MOTHERFUCKING OMEGA POINT, and as mentioned before, O Superman). That kind of thing has obvious drawbacks: when I didn't buzz it was more likely that I hadn't heard of answers at all rather than just not knowing clues about things I've heard of, but strict adherence to the canon was hardly expected. I'd be surprised if people complain too much about this tournament - it wasn't a "normal" tournament but its irregularities were perfectly predictable.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

In terms of computer science, I was pleasantly surprised to see a healthy amount of it in this tournament, although I don't know how happy I was with the results. I appreciate the efforts to expand the answer space, but things like the bonus on web technologies (AJAX, RSS, etc.) and the tossup on Apache seemed like not the greatest idea ever to me. These things fall dangerously close to the "computer literacy" questions NAQT likes to ask, where it's more a question on whether you've used these things than whether you understand the

Some of the questions (although thankfully never more than maybe 2 per packet) were quite transparent. Some that come to mind like the Order of Cincanatus which indicated that it was a group connected to people from Revolutionary America rather early and Bleeding Kansas which essentially everyone in the room was thinking of answering around the first line but hesitated out of disbelief. In general, I think the history was probably the weakest part of the set. I'll expand on that statement later, but it seemed like the sub-distribution for history wasn't very expansive, it was notably missing in some packets, and the answer choice could have been improved.

Math seemed very over-represented in this tournament compared to science in general. It wasn't a huge problem, but it may have been nice to see some other questions instead.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

grapesmoker wrote:
ValenciaQBowl wrote: They were the quintessential Russian wits. Answer questions about them, for 10 points each:
[10] Born in 1897 and 1903 respectively, in then-Tsarist Odessa, these two satirists set out on a ten-week road trip
across the United States in 1935, armed with a Leica camera to investigate the hidden America, far from "the
despairing screams of stockbrokers rushing through the skyscrapers waving their ever-falling shares."
ANSWER: Ilya Ilf and Yevgeniy Petrov [both names required]
[10] Ilf and Petrov are fondly remembered for this wildly popular 1928 work, in which former baron Vorobianinov
sets off on a manic quest to find a trove of family jewels, supposedly hidden from the Bolsheviks in the titular pieces
of furniture. In 1970, it was made into a slapstick comedy starring Mel Brooks.
ANSWER: The Twelve Chairs
[10] The Twelve Chairs marks the first appearance of this street-smart swindler, son of a Turkish bey, who also
appears in The Golden Calf, blackmailing his way to Turkestan, and as grandmaster of the Interplanetary Chess
Congress, in that titular tale. In Russia, his name has become synonymous with con-man.
ANSWER: Ostap Bender
This is probably the best bonus ever written. I would have 30d it, but Ted Gioia denied me that sweet, sweet pleasure by answering the tossup. Who does that guy think he is anyway?
I would've 20ed that, missing the middle part. But I'm a Russian minor.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by MLafer »

we also 20'd that bonus, missing the last part. The other Russian lit bonus (Platonov) seemed much harder.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by kactigger »

I don't remember the Ilf and Petrov bonus coming up, but I had to read the Twelve Chairs in a 20th century Soviet History class, and Ilf and Petrov and probably the most widely read (in the most obvious sense: lots of people read them) of the Soviet authors- a basic knowledge of their work is pretty much essential in talking (in English) to Russians of a certain age (of whom there are a lot in Florida) or else you can't follow their conversation.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by kactigger »

But Borglum's larger point is correct: the bonuses were ass-hard, especially for the audience in Tampa: some teams didn't convert any bonuses points for rounds at a time (this was tied to their inability to get the tossups to begin with, but those were marginally more accessible).
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Yeah, I figured there'd be a raft of people who could or did crush that bonus. I look forward to reading the first Ostap Bender toss-up at ACF Fall in 2010!
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Yeah, I figured there'd be a raft of people who could or did crush that bonus. I look forward to reading the first Ostap Bender toss-up at ACF Fall in 2008!
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I regret to say that I was very disappointed by this tournament. I went into it expecting questions that were very similar to Gaddis, but most of the questions at S&F fell short of this mark. Based on the markings in the questions, it looked to me like Ahmad had written much, but not all of the questions, and it showed in that most of the things that he didn't write (and, to be fair, some that he did) were just not very good.

There were a couple of problems with this set, and the first one has to do with the fact that it looks like the difficulty was not coordinated between writers. A packet that had a really easy, really bad tossup on "Cry, the Beloved Country," also had a tossup on Iris Murdock's first novel. There's just no way those questions belong in the same packet. This had a pronounced effect on bonus difficulty where one bonus literally awarded 30 points for knowing the most famous works of Fugard, while another bonus asked for details about some obscure Audi car. Usually, there will be some variability in bonuses that is unavoidable due to team specialties and whatever, but I don't think I've ever seen such variation, with some questions at high school level and others almost a certain 0 for most teams.

Most of the poor questions suffered from transparency issues or just had very obvious clues in the very beginning. I remember a tossup on the 2nd Boer War that began with a clue on the Witwatersrand, and there were many similar questions throughout the packets. Even some of the questions on topics that I thought were interesting and should come up more were kind of uneven.

The other issue, which may admittedly be entirely a product of my sleep-deprived imagination, was that I thought that on many tossups, pronouns and other important referrents were not entirely accurate. I thought I repeatedly heard plural things when the answer was singular, or heard the description switch between two varying subjects mid-sentence. Maybe that didn't actually happen (I'll have to read the set to check) but what did happen was that questions were full of unparsable run-on sentences and utterly atrocious grammar. I know that these things creep into questions and whatever, but seriously, do people not notice when they write a sentence that stretches for 5 lines? Come on folks, read that back to yourselves just once, and you'll avoid giving moderators fits and confusing players.

All right, enough carping. There were also many great and enjoyable tossups and bonuses in this set (Norman Foster! Ilf and Petrov! The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind!) so personally for me, it was a 50/50 experience, where 50% was kind of frustrating and the other 50% was educational. Even though I was disappointed at the overall quality control in the set, I generally had a good time and would come back for another iteration next year. I estimate that the hard parts of these bonuses will be appearing at ACF Regionals in under 2 years.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Okay, so this set had its pitfalls, many of which have already been mentioned: (1) There were clues misplaced early in a handful of questions (and sometimes the best bet was just to buzz and take a leap of faith, since it could only really be one thing), (2) there was some pretty wide variance in bonus difficulty, going from bonuses where experienced teams partied their way to an easy 30 points and bonuses where they grinded their way to a hard-earned 10, and (3) there were some pronoun and grammar issues that sometimes made it difficult to determine what the questions were asking for or when to buzz in (one thing to note here, which is easily fixable - questions should always start with a subject - "this man"/"this event," etc. - something to let people know what the question wants, not just jumping into a standalone clue)

But, like I said in the previous post, I had a really good time playing this event and I enjoyed some of the more exciting answer selection. I'm happy to see the traditional idea of "summer tournament" apparently back in quizbowl (i.e. a time to bust open the canon and feel free to engage in some vanity).

As far as difficulty goes, I think this is just one of those sets that one group of people (mostly younger, less experienced players) are going to have a problem with...it was really jam-packed with things only a certain group of players know, and teams with those players put up pretty good numbers. Other teams, not so much.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

Thanks for your comments so far. I can see that I have some work to do, and I learned a great deal from writing this tournament. Moreover, I completely intend to produce another iteration of SunnFun next year. I will likely keep the difficulty where it is, but attempt to be more consistent.

I also found the podcast of the round between Maryland and VCU very enlightening as it gave me the opportunity to analyze how players of significant talent were responding to questions instantaneously. I also found the comment "Getting Ragabed(sp?)" amusing and all too relevant. By the way, sorry about the Karl Jaspers bonus part, it would have helped to include actual information other than philosopher/theologian.

What strikes as most vexing going forward is that many of the transparencies that you all have been referring to were completely blind to me at the time of writing or editing, for example the Witwatersand clue in the Second Boer War tossup, I really hadn't heard that clue before. For questions in areas that are not my strengths my primary resources came from my access to article databases, encyclopedias and such through the university system, and that kind of information is not presented in a format which allows one to easily distinguish between canonical and less canonical information. I also managed to on some but perhaps not enough questions look through the various question databases at our disposal to determine which clues had been overused or never mentioned in order to guide placement. I assume as those search capabilities improve it will be easier to organize my questions pyramidally.

For those who write questions often in areas that do not play to their strengths either in quizbowl or within their studies what methods, resources or tips do you have for constructing questions of reasonable quality.

Other than what I have discussed above, some of the issues that applied to this year's Sun n Fun, I think have to do with being a bit too ambitious when it comes to answer selection. Some questions are just too difficult to write properly without proper background and context, and I think I got a little ahead of myself.

All I can say is that next year's will be better than last year's...
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

SnookerUSF wrote:What strikes as most vexing going forward is that many of the transparencies that you all have been referring to were completely blind to me at the time of writing or editing, for example the Witwatersand clue in the Second Boer War tossup, I really hadn't heard that clue before. For questions in areas that are not my strengths my primary resources came from my access to article databases, encyclopedias and such through the university system, and that kind of information is not presented in a format which allows one to easily distinguish between canonical and less canonical information.
It's not an issue of canonicity as much as encouraging lateral thinking. "Witwatersand" is almost comical in how Afrikaans it sounds, and the question is clearly talking about a conflict, so the options have quickly been narrowed down to the two Boer Wars or the Zulu War, by including that word. Just watch for accidentally too-early clues like that.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Well, I guess if you're unaware that Witwatersrand is associated with South Africa, then placing that clue there is understandable. The only thing I can suggest to avoid unwittingly dropping these types of clues is to do something like Googling "Witwatersrand" - this may tip you off that it's a pretty famous geographical region of South Africa (and, even if you don't know that - like Weiner says, it has "Rand" right in the name) - if you figure that out, you can see that asking about a conflict which mentions that as the first clue will be problematic. In general, it's good (if obvious) advice for people to ask themselves "given my first few clues, how likely is it that people will be able to just laterally guess at the answer?" Sometimes you just don't have the knowledge to know how likely that is (i.e. when you're out of your area of expertise), and that will invariably lead to poor questions, but c'est la vie, it happens to all writers on occasion.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by vcuEvan »

I enjoyed the tournament, but I think it suffered major distribution problems. My main problems are with the literature. In Round 7 there were only two literature tossups, a rather bad TU on Chickamatsu and one on A Man without Qualities. In Round 10 the only TU I identified as lit was a TU on This be the Verse. Pretty much removing an entire category can effect the outcome of a game. Also, out of the 39 TUs I identified as literature, 25 were 20th century in addition to another 5 that were borderline.

Also some of the lit was rather poorly written. The Cry the Beloved Country TU mentioned noted major character James Jarvis really early, the Winter's Tale mentioned noted really major character Leontes really early. Twice Told Tales was pretty transparent, the Ishmael Reed TU mentioned what I thought was his most famous work, Flight to Canada, early.

Looking back, most of the questions I had problems with weren't written by Ahmad though.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

As perhaps the most vocal critic of last year's Sun n Fun, I definitely wanted to weigh in here but wanted to wait for the. . . other thread. . . to be resolved. Ahmad, I like this tournament a lot better than Sun n Fun last year. There are things to be worked on, things I will try to outline below, but this is definitely a big improvement and like most people here I will endeavor to play this tournament again whenever possible. My biggest compliment on the improvement is the "reach" questions - the questions on non-traditionally tossup stuff - which were immeasurably better in choice and quality than those from last year's set. Ludicrous questions on Richard McBeef and Kakutani were replaced with stuff I really loved being told about by Matt, such as The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which is going right on top of my still never-opened reading list. My perception is that one of your big goals with Sun n Fun is to throw such things into the canon, and this set (with a few exceptions) met that goal very well, particularly compared to last year. My ability to make any kind of blanket statements on this stuff is limited because of my great inexperience, but it seemed to me like you were able to slay a lot of Sun n Fun's answer choice demons. Good show.

Problems:
-Stuff with the distribution and pseudodistribution (varying by time period and area, that is) needs to be tweaked a bit and you have to adhere pretty hard to it - if you're going to have something that's difficult and kind of tenuously literature (some of the 20th century criticism stuff, for instance), don't have only two literature questions in the packet, and don't also write one on a difficult 20th century author for that packet. A lot of objections I encountered revolved around various aspects of the distribution. Non-western stuff should be varied as well - there was a ton of Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism in RMP, and while I think there should be more of some of those than there usually are in sets, this had a tangible effect (at least for me) on the conversion of those questions. It also seemed like there was 1/1 math, which is probably too much.

-Clunker questions that threw any sense of overriding question rhythm (apparently, I benefit from this but it's not a good quality for a set to have; a set should be uniform as much as possible). This is tied to
Looking back, most of the questions I had problems with weren't written by Ahmad though.
Yes, this struck me too. They also appeared to pop up in similar categories (some areas of literature, more of areas of history, science). Ahmad, would you consider teaming with someone more experienced in these areas than the other USF writers? Simply put, I think the type of set you want to produce is going to be haunted by these (significant) problems with questions wildly varying until someone able to do in those categories what you use Sun n Fun to do in others takes over science and at least some history. Doing this would likely have the added benefited of having two seasoned, knowledgeable editors on the set instead of one, allowing other issues like distribution and pseudodistribution stuff to be more readily caught. Just a thought, but I think if someone out there is willing to do it, it might be something to consider.

-Bonus variation. This was problematic at times, as people have mentioned. While most of the bonuses fit the standard mode, I'd say there were an average of 3-5 per packet that varied too far away from the rest, one way or another. When you have a set full of challenging tossups where stuff can go dead and teams can win with 8 tossups, this is a compounded problem. Perhaps it's something that could also be addressed by having another pair of eyes on the set.

-It seemed almost impossible for players to get into a rhythm on this set, as I mentioned. I think part of this is the clunkers, but in a separate sense it was all over the place at times. Clue placement is just one factor; things like phrasing, packet variance (that is, the range/amount of easy, medium, and hard tossup answers packet to packet), and transparency (and often wildly varying degrees of transparency) were significant issues with the tossups. There should not be a higher level (or any level) set where I outscore Matt Weiner (or Lafer, Westbrook, Magin, Jerry, Eric, etc.). Though I wish it weren't so, me doing as comparatively well as I did on this set is, right now, an indication of problems rather than positives. Eric Mukherjee and I were actually discussing issues with question flow before this tournament and how there is a definite way to approximate the feel of an ACF packet and a lot of different definite ways to fail to do so. I'm interested if you perceive a difference between the standard ACFish packet and Sun n Fun, don't perceive it or don't agree that it's there, or just have no idea what the Christ I'm talking about.

Anyway, I hope these criticisms read as constructive feedback amid a positive reaction, because I really did have a good time and think the set's moving in very much a good direction. Thanks for the tournament, and hopefully Maryland can continue hosting this next year.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

Totally understand about the other thread,
DumbJaques wrote:Eric Mukherjee and I were actually discussing issues with question flow before this tournament and how there is a definite way to approximate the feel of an ACF packet and a lot of different definite ways to fail to do so. I'm interested if you perceive a difference between the standard ACFish packet and Sun n Fun, don't perceive it or don't agree that it's there, or just have no idea what the Christ I'm talking about.
No, I definitely sense a certain structure/pacing to ACF-style questions, I think it is most notable in subject areas such as music and history. There is an emphasis, and a good one at that, on what I would call the deep internals to the answer selection. What do I mean by this? In a tossup about a battle for example, there is a focus on troop movements, positioning, what actually happened during the battle. Take this example from ACF Nationals 2007, Editors Packet #2:
ACF Nationals 2007 wrote:1. This battle featured the deployment of numerous specialized units, including an elite halbedier unit,that served as a body guard to one of the generals, Miller’s English mercenaries, and three battalions of Montoneros. The night before fighting took place, one side sent its band out to play music and harass the other. As it began General Canterac stacked his forces on the slopes of the Condorqanqui Mountain,that borders the north side of the namesake plain, but a valiant charge by General Cordoba overcame the royalist advantage and sent them scattering. Preceded by a cavalry encounter five months earlier at Junin, FTP, identify this 1824 confrontation that pitted De La Serna against Sucre and marked the end of Spanish rule in South America.
ANSWER: Ayacucho
And I tried to mimic this:
SunnFunIX wrote:1.[AR]Minor skirmishes in the region preceding this battle were at Boonville and Carthage. The Confederate general
had intended to outflank the Union position by marching to Missick's farm the night prior on March 6th. The
division commander at that position, Frank Sigel, anticipating the maneuver was able to organize a retreat and delay
the merger of the Confederate forces. The pretext for the engagement was the eventual capture of St. Louis and the
carrying of the war to Illinois by the Confederate General Earl Van Dorn. The first clear and decisive victory for the
North in a battle west of the Mississippi, for 10 points, name this March 7th and 8th, 1862 battle of the Civil War
fought in Arkansas also known as Elkhorn Tavern.
ANSWER: Battle of Pea Ridge [accept Elkhorn Tavern before mentioned]
But maybe I find it boring or unhelpful and sometimes I got a little squirrely:
SunnFunIX wrote:6.[AR]After decisive victory was attained at this battle, some scholars suggest that the victors pursued the remnant
enemy forces to Pelusium while others suggest that the forces were demolished at Hamath. Sir Leonard Woolley and
T.E. Lawrence excavated the site where this battle was fought just prior to World War I for the British Museum near
Jerabulus. The Book of Daniel opens by recounting the capitulation of King Jehoiakim to the victorious forces,
which resulted in the first deportation in what would become the Babylonian Captivity. Fought after the Fall of
Harran, for 10 points, name this crushing defeat for the joint forces of Assyrians and Egyptians under the leadership
of Pharaoh Necco II by Nebuchadnezzar's army in 605BCE.
ANSWER: Battle of Carchemish
And as is apparent, gives itself to anti-pyramidality, lateral thinking. Frankly, it just requires discipline in these areas. Music questions also make more musicological references in symphonic pieces, arias in operatic works, etc.

Generally speaking, I like clues which connect world-historically to other endeavors, other disciplines, even other modes of thinking. So, I really don't mind such things as the occasional science biography (blasphemy!), because scientists are people too and their scientific endeavors are very much affected by their humanity, and I think to be culturally literate one should be able to reference these genetic facts. Is quizbowl just about cultural literacy? No. Is it mutually exclusive from it? Again, no. Can questions be written in such a way as to avoid excessive lateral thinking, maybe-I think it requires a degree of cleverness. I know, I know see Weiner's Law #1, I am not clever and I am not funny. But I think there is room out there for questions that do not exactly flow or sound like ACF-questions, that are nevertheless academic in answer space, mostly non-lateral, and pyramidal.
DumbJaques wrote:Simply put, I think the type of set you want to produce is going to be haunted by these (significant) problems with questions wildly varying until someone able to do in those categories what you use Sun n Fun to do in others takes over science and at least some history.
You are right, very right I was thinking this very thing myself, I think with one other editor who has expertise in science & history, will allow me to focus on those topics, which I believe I can excel. Any Takers?

Also, what you think of tossups like these:
SunnFunIX wrote:5.[AR]The author of A Cup of Coffee with My Interrogators wrote a manifesto in favor of this slogan. That
manifesto, The Two Thousand Words, calls for the resignation of those who would seek to end the reforms this fiveword
phrase implies. The denoted prepositional modification was to be enacted by the Action Program, with such
highlights, as the increased of the freedom of the press and the end of democratic centralism. Announced at the
Presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1968, for 10 points, name this five-word phrase that
described the mitigation of the mentioned form of government, that was used in context of the political reforms of
Alexander Dubcek during the Prague Spring.
ANSWER: "Socialism with a Human Face"
and
SunnFunIX wrote:18.[AR] The author of The Mississippi Bubble, and The Way of the Man, Emerson Hough wrote a novel with this as
its title. In that work, he suggests it was invented by some backwoodsmen. Its appearance in its final form probably
did not appear before April 1846, though The Dictionary of American History states that it was coined in a speech
by a Senator from Ohio, William Allen. In a satirically derisive gesture, some newspapers replaced the all letters f in
it with p-h. Thus, it is unlikely that this phrase played any part in the Election of James K. Polk in 1844. For 10
points, name this latitudinal rallying slogan used in reference to the Oregon boundary dispute.
ANSWER: Fifty-Four Forty or Fight
Your choices:
1. Brilliant.
2. Decent idea, needs to be worked on.
3. Should have never been illuminated by the backlit screen of a laptop.
4. Its presence calls into question my ability as a constructive member of the community and perhaps even my sanity.

Thanks,
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

The "54-40 or fight" tossup I thought was brilliant, though I negged it with "34-40 or fight".
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

A different thing I feel should be commented on with these questions, along with some questions in most any set, is that they don't immediately say what the answer is. I think it should just be a rule that a tossup should begin with "This ..." or "Characters in this... include" or "In this ..." or similar clues that allow you to identify what is being asked about instead of forcing the players to either have to wait or else take a gamble. Examples up there are found to varying degrees in most of your samples, and I think it should just become a hard and fast rule (hey ACF people, want to include that in your guidelines?) that within the first 5 words you should establish whether the answer is a person, place, thing, etc. I have yet to see an example question where you couldn't easily reword the leadin to keep the same order of clues AND identify what is wanted right off the bat.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Well, Ahmad, I like what you're trying to do with those questions, but I'm not sure they came off completely successful. So, I'm going to go with option 2. "Socialism with a human face" is the better idea of the two, I think, because it's an important slogan, but it seems slightly weird to me - it's just that I think of that phrase more as a Dubcek-ian description, not a definite slogan, and so it didn't occur to me that it could be the answer (that's more my fault than yours, probably). However, the question did lead to one of my funniest negs in recent memory when I said "Plastic People of the Universe" (hey, it has five words, people!). "54-40 or Fight!" strikes me as something that's just really tough to write on, because there is a great risk that lateral thinking will allow people to figure out the answer. There is a palpable danger throughout the question of drifting into NAQT-land - I don't think it does drift there, but it comes close.

On the other hand, I think both of the battle tossups you pasted there were pretty good. I don't have any problem at all with being cross-distributional in questions, as with Carchemish question, but as people have said, you have to be fair with the amount of lit/history/sci/etc. you put overall in any given packet. I think Chris is spot on about you maybe finding someone to team with who has knowledge in some of your off areas - I think there are a lot of people in the community who really like the type of tournaments you seem interested in putting together, ones that inject exciting new and important stuff into the canon and so on. Depending on the timing, I'm sure something can be arranged.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

Deesy Does It wrote:A different thing I feel should be commented on with these questions, along with some questions in most any set, is that they don't immediately say what the answer is. I think it should just be a rule that a tossup should begin with "This ..." or "Characters in this... include" or "In this ..." or similar clues that allow you to identify what is being asked about instead of forcing the players to either have to wait or else take a gamble. Examples up there are found to varying degrees in most of your samples, and I think it should just become a hard and fast rule (hey ACF people, want to include that in your guidelines?) that within the first 5 words you should establish whether the answer is a person, place, thing, etc. I have yet to see an example question where you couldn't easily reword the leadin to keep the same order of clues AND identify what is wanted right off the bat.
I very much agree that immediately identifying the answer space with "this . . ." is a good idea. First five words seem to be excessive, though. I can't come up with a good example off the top of my head, but there must be instances when the answer would be clear even if it's not identified right at the beginning of the question. The bigger problem I've had trying to implement this rule with my own question writing is that some words make the question very transparent. I've had to use "it" for kamikaze, for example, because I couldn't come up with any noun that wouldn't give unintentional clues.

As for the set itself, Ahmad, I don't think I can give very insightful criticisms, mainly because I know very little about the things that were asked. I thought it was pretty neat that there were a lot of non-canonical social sciences that people still seemed to care/know about. The two tossups that seemed flagrantly unpyramidal even to me, Lully and Cry the Beloved Country, both were apparently written by your teammates so I do agree that you could improve your set by working with more experienced writers.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

The tossup on Carchemish seems fine. I guess my only concern regarding it is that about half the clues are about what other people said about Carchemish. It seemed to me that about the first half of the clues were about the same difficulty, but there's nothing really wrong with the question. The "Socialism with a human face" question confused me because I think instead of "this slogan" I heard "this organization" (I suck at hearing things), but from "Two Thousand Words" I knew we were talking about the Prague Spring (I couldn't think of a specific "organization" so I said the obviously wrong Charter 77). So, it's a good idea for a question, but I think the execution was a little problematic.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

The one tossup that seemed most egregious to me in terms of transparency issues was the "Baden Baden" one. It mentioned some baths relatively early in the question. The town's name means "baths" in German, and they're the only reason why the place is significant at all. So when I heard that clue, I thought "this is going to probably be Baden Baden, but there's no way that that clue would be right there." But I buzzed on it in the end and got it right anyway.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

I thought the socialism with a human face question was pretty good. My main concern with tossups on slogans and quotes has to do with what one should do with slight variations, especially when foreign translation is involved. I negged on that question because I said "communism" instead of "socialism". Should that have counted? I think there are good arguments either way, but I think it shows that those types of questions can potentially lead to protests, drama, arguing on the internet, and other (un)savory things. It's just something to be mindful of for anyone who attempts similar questions.

Anyway, my (relatively novice) teammates and I enjoyed the tournament. I think it was a great contribution to the quizbowl community, and I am looking forward to next year's incarnation. Thanks Ahmad.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I'm not a fan of history tossups on slogans, retroactively-applied names for eras, etc. This includes things like "Socialism with a Human Face", "54 40 or fight", "concert of Europe", and even "dollar diplomacy".

First, these are kind of amorphous things the boundaries of which are unclear. Second, in most cases there is something more concrete you can write about with the same clues. You can write a William Howard Taft tossup that uses only clues about dollar diplomacy, you can write a Prague Spring tossup that uses only clues about people who wrote about one of its slogans, etc. But that way, the answer will be something that's a lot more difficult to get confused about.
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Re: Sun n' Fun(n) IX Discussion

Post by btressler »

I just realized that I should have protested an answer I gave:

Searle's Chinese Room is also called the "Chinese Box". I have it listed as such in a few of my CS texts. And also for example:

http://members.aol.com/lshauser2/chinabox.html

But I do thank whomever wrote this. It was a topic I hadn't heard in a question before, and not since my days as an undergrad.
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