Harvard T-Party Discussion

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cornfused
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by cornfused »

Captain Scipio wrote:Yeah, I agree with Andrew and Greg here. Some level of biographical detail, especially of writers, is generally extremely important in an academic sense.
I'd also like to make a separate but perhaps related point. I don't think there's necessarily an imperative to put the easiest real clue about something as its giveaway. In fact, I think doing so is a bad idea, unless one can select a set of answers with easiest real clues of about the same level of notability (which I'll contend is impossible.) It seems to me that always putting the easiest real clue last is going to lead to some questions having either correspondingly easier leadins, significantly greater length, or much more precipitous drop-offs in difficulty. Therefore, I think, as a writer or editor, one should be sure to include a giveaway, but a giveaway tuned to hit the conversion rates for your field, which is not always or generally going to be the easiest real clue.

MaS

PS: I meant that I agree with Andrew's earlier post, of course; we manifestly have some differences regarding his most recent post.
That's what I was trying to say.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

Captain Scipio wrote:
I'd also like to make a separate but perhaps related point. I don't think there's necessarily an imperative to put the easiest real clue about something as its giveaway. In fact, I think doing so is a bad idea, unless one can select a set of answers with easiest real clues of about the same level of notability (which I'll contend is impossible.) It seems to me that always putting the easiest real clue last is going to lead to some questions having either correspondingly easier leadins, significantly greater length, or much more precipitous drop-offs in difficulty. Therefore, I think, as a writer or editor, one should be sure to include a giveaway, but a giveaway tuned to hit the conversion rates for your field, which is not always or generally going to be the easiest real clue.

MaS
I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here. When you say that it is impossible to select "a set of answers with easiest real clues of about the same level of notability," I take it that you mean something like this: In any packet of 20 tossups, some of the answers will inherently be more difficult than others. So, for example, a packet might feature a history tossup on James Garfield and a lit tossup on George Washington Cable, even though a Garfield tossup is easier, relative to "the world of history knowledge," than a tossup on George Washington Cable, relative to "the world of literature knowledge." It's true that the easiest legit Garfield giveaway ("this president assassinated in 1881" or whatever) is going to be much more widely known than the easiest legit Cable giveaway ("this author of The Grandissimes" or whatever). But I don't see why this is a problem.

To my mind (and looking back at my earlier post), this just means that in games between two bad teams, the Garfield tossup (with easy giveaway) will almost always be answered by the end, while the Cable tossup will more often go unanswered. I don't see why that's an issue. Also, I think the fear about "significantly greater length" and "precipitous drop-offs" is overstated, since we're talking about "the words that go after 'For 10 points'" in all these cases. Basically, I don't have a problem with there being a few tossups in each round (even at, say, ACF nats) which even very bad teams are likely to answer, because a) they are on very gettable answers and b) they have a very easy giveaway. Or, to put it another way, I don't see the point of thinking something like "given that this is ACF nats, I'd better pull up short on this James Garfield tossup: I'll just make the giveaway 'For 10 points, name this man whose Secretary of War was Robert Todd Lincoln.'"

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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Or, to put it another way, I don't see the point of thinking something like "given that this is ACF nats, I'd better pull up short on this James Garfield tossup: I'll just make the giveaway 'For 10 points, name this man whose Secretary of War was Robert Todd Lincoln.'"
After Gaddis, you made the argument that Sykes-Picot, for example, is a poor answer choice because, if you're aware that Sykes-Picot exists you can easily determine that the tossup's answer is either that or something even more difficult, so your opponent won't get it either and you might as well buzz. Instead, you advocated a tossup on, say, Taney, with just such a "pulled up short" giveaway--I think you gave the Charles River Bridge decision as an example. Was that recommendation specific to Gaddis (either as a tossup-only format, or due to its unique difficulty), and not extensible to ACF Nationals?
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I agree with much of what Andrew Y. says, but I just wanted to point out that my statement about my neg on that Triangle Shirtwaist questions was misinterpreted. I did not mean to say that there was anything deceptive about the question, but rather that my lack of knowledge of the incident combined with a linguistic clue led me to a wrong answer. Obviously had I known any of the names mentioned before then I would not have done this, but I don't think this is a bad tossup or anything, I just failed to fraud it.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi »

I had Jerry's line of reasoning while I was looking at the Okri tossup. There are 6-7 or Nigerian writers who are viable answers, so I figured that ending the question with "name this author who wrote the Famished Road, a Nigerian" was not essential in the same way it is important to end a Saramago question with Portugal. I wouldn't end a Murakami tossup, "name this author of the novels Norwegian Wood and The Windup Bird Chronicle, who is Japanese." At a later point I want to address something taht Bernadette brought up about the lit questions not containing enough pronouns because I think it is a salient issue.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

Right, I think Andy makes a good point (along with some unrelated issues of transparency... but whatever.)
Also, I'm saying we ought not consider the words after "For ten..." in isolation: in fact, I think your implying we ought is a form of special pleading. Rather, I contend that have to consider the relation of those clues to the ones that came before them, just as with every other clue.
To make an even more extreme, if tinted by reality, example, let's say I want to write a tossup on George Washington for ACF Nationals. Okay, I'll write a pyramidal series of ACF Nationals-level clues starting with a difficult leadin on George Washington, such that, like, maybe the second-to-last thing is about his being the Hero of Monongahela. If I follow what I understand your dictate to be, I'd then put "FTP, name this first President of the United States." I think I'll have done a poor job in that case: probably a lot of games, even between top-level teams, will terminate in a speedcheck on a grade-school level clue, because there's a very steep step in difficulty at the end.
However, it seems to me that this is inevitable, unless I either start with an easier lead-in, which is bad because I'll probably have made a question that is overall a lot easier than the average and will likely precipitate buzzer races on the first clue in a lot of rooms, or I extend the question so that I can moderate the difficulty trough depth by intervening clues, which is bad because then I have either an abnormally long question or, worse, a bunch of overlong questions.
I contend it's better in this case to select a giveaway appropriate to my field given my ideal conversion rate which, for any reasonable rate at ACF Nationals, is certainly not the easiest real clue about George Washington. Now, perhaps this is a moot point because, for the T-Party field, the easiest real clue for any answer that actually showed up is, in fact, appropriate. That may well be: I'm honestly not sure. However, I certainly don't think, given the above, that the easiest real clue ought to be the giveaway generally.

MaS
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Well, here's the simple position which I think most everyone in this thread (including Andrew W now, it seems) agrees with: It's perfectly fine to use any giveaway which is legitimately related to the subject matter at hand (Portugal for Saramago), but not giveaways which are solely meant to aid teams with absolutely zero knowledge of the topic (rhymes with Paramago).

Now, I can see what Mike is getting at, too. He's looking at a situation where, for example, you decide to write a tossup on "Henry James" for some event with a really good field. The problem is that there are ton of people on the circuit who know a whole lot about Henry James, so you're naturally inclined to start out such a tossup with a lot of quite obscure clues. Even when you get near the FTP, you're going to be hesitant to just drop a pretty famous clue because you'll worry about buzzer races. So, unless you're going to create an 11-line behemoth of a tossup (and often people do create those, and they have their place, I suppose) - unless you do that, you end up squeezed for space at the end. It's suboptimal to just go from some description of the Aspern Papers to "name this dude who wrote The Bostonians."

But, that is kind of a special case - it only happens when you have pretty good fields, and you decide to write kind of "artsy" tossups on pretty simple answers. You know, the kinds of tossups on G. Washington, Zeus, Jesus, and the like (but please no more Jesus tossups, people). If you want to "pull up short" in those cases and not give the easiest real clue at the end, that makes a lot of sense - it's in the name of preserving a pyramid which could not be very well preserved otherwise.

But, a good rule of thumb in general for most answers at most events is probably to give people every helpful real clue you can - certainly, there's no reason not to for a Saramago tossup in this case, for instance.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by yoda4554 »

everyday847 wrote:Perhaps my perspective is thirty years out of date (it almost inevitably is, since my mom got her masters nearly thirty years ago, and most of my opinion about literature are influenced by her), but I still believe in close reading, the principle that a text should exist independent of its author, and I don't like speculative arguments about crap like the author's "intentions." But this is far afield of the discussion at hand. If prevailing scholarship nowadays holds that it's important to know where the author of a text is from, I will mourn prevailing scholarship but concede the point re: quizbowl.
I suggest you check out The Uses of Biography, from 1958, by the best close reader of the century, William Empson.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

everyday847 wrote: After Gaddis, you made the argument that Sykes-Picot, for example, is a poor answer choice because, if you're aware that Sykes-Picot exists you can easily determine that the tossup's answer is either that or something even more difficult, so your opponent won't get it either and you might as well buzz. Instead, you advocated a tossup on, say, Taney, with just such a "pulled up short" giveaway--I think you gave the Charles River Bridge decision as an example. Was that recommendation specific to Gaddis (either as a tossup-only format, or due to its unique difficulty), and not extensible to ACF Nationals?
Truth be told, I had utterly forgotten ever saying anything of the sort. As I dimly remember about my post-Gaddis post, I was trying to say something like this: "Given that your intention was to write an exceptionally challenging tournament, you might want to reconsider tossups on certain oddball subjects (e.g. 20th-century European agreements regarding the Middle East) where, for quizbowl purposes, there is essentially only one askable answer of the given type. Instead, you might consider asking tossups on better known, but much less immediately guessable, answers; if you're concerned that doing so would subvert your goal of having this be an exceptionally challenging tournament, then just don't give banal giveaways." Assuming that's an accurate description of what I was saying after Gaddis, then I'll opt for the "recommendation specific to Gaddis, as a tournament whose aim was to be uniquely difficult" description of my earlier argument and claim that I'm actually being consistent.

And, perhaps for the first time in my hsquizbowl posting career, I'll note that I'm in agreement with Ryan Westbrook -- I think the cases which Mike is worrying about are actually rare, special exceptions. One possible rule of thumb might be "If this subject could also be asked about on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, then maybe it doesn't need a giveaway which is truly the most well-known clue."

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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Since no more mirrors are going to occur, will the questions be re-posted (and, if not, could you email me a copy)?
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Sure. CHRISTIAN CARTER TO AAAAAARMS.
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Re: Harvard T-Party Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

everyday847 wrote:Sure. CHRISTIAN CARTER TO AAAAAARMS.
T-Party is also on QBDB now.
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