Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

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Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:45 pm

There has been much talk recently, especially in previous posts, about the optimal trash/TRASH distribution. I realize that as a relatively new trash player and as someone with no pull within the TRASH organization, I don't expect to change or be able to fix what I believe to be the deficiencies in the TRASH distribution and level of difficulty. However, I think it is healthy to open up a dialogue concerning trash tournaments of all kinds, so that the trash community as an aggregate can run the best possible tournaments in the future. That said, here are my own ideas concerning what I believe be the most optimal trash distribution and my overall criticisms of TRASH packets.

I believe that close to 75% of the trash distribution should consist of the core trash subject areas, those being movies, music, TV, and sports. Of the remaining distribution, I think that video games should be the most prominent. Although I personally do not know much at all about video games, I realize their significance to pop culture and that they are a big deal to many people, especially those of college age. However, I do not think they are as prominent an element of pop culture as the four core elements mentioned above. After video games, I think there should be some comics content in every packet just to touch on another more minor subject area, but one which nonetheless has cultural significance. I would group all other subject areas aside from movies, music, TV, sports, video games, and comics into the general "other" category, which can maintain flexibility even in a well-written and well-distributed packet. The subjects which fit in this category should be of cultural significance, but need not appear in all packets as a requirement. These questions could consist of a question on a more minor sport, one on internet fads, one on past cultural fads or toys, one on celebrity news or gossip, one on chain restaurants or food that is significant to a wide range of people, or anything that combines or relates to core elements of the distribution that does not necessarily fit strictly into one other category. This could include an all-encompassing common link question.

So, here is what I propose for a trash distribution:

Overall: 20/20

Sports: 4/4
Music: 4/4
Movies: 3/3
TV: 3/3

Video Games: 2/2
Comic Books: 1/1

Other: 3/3

With respect to sub-distribution, I would agree with the general convention of most trash tournaments currently run and the 2/3 post-1990 rule and the 1/3 pre-1990 rule. In terms of sports, I would devote 1/1 to a sport outside of the four major North American sports. I have no real suggestions for video game and comic book sub-distributions, because my expertise in those areas is very limited. I would appreciate input from others on that subject. In terms of the core distribution, one can certainly add another 1/1 or change the composition of the core distribution according to what they want the focus of their tournament to be, or they can make other minor adjustments. I suggested the 4/4 for sports in order to be able to include content on minor sports, and I suggested 4/4 for music just because music is so varied and so huge in popularity due to ipods and other mp3 players. However, I would not object at all to a tournament, which consistently had 4/4 movies or 4/4 TV.

In conclusion, I don't want to individually rant about the normal criticisms of TRASH, those being the oldness and obscurity of much of the distribution. However, TRASH has started to improve recently, and I think this year's TRASH regionals was at least a step in the right direction, even though they still have much room for improvement. The writer's of all trash tournaments, including those of TRASH, need to realize that not everything which is not academic qualifies as good trash. "Random roadside attractions in the U.S." is one example of content that I have seen in TRASH packets which does not belong in any trash tournament. Anyway, I have set down my suggestions for future trash tournaments. I appreciate any feedback people may have and any challenges to my assertions that others wish to issue. Also, if you have any more detailed suggestions about sub-distribution, those would be great. I know that I did not supply the most detailed account of sub-distribution above. I certainly realize that as someone who is new to trash competition, I do not know everything about this quiz genre. I am just trying to figure out how we can all best improve future trash tournaments.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:55 pm

Things that strike me:

1) 2/2 video games is a lot. A guarantee of at least 1/1 should be the minimum because everyone plays video games and there's a lot to ask about (and certainly there are more good video game questions to be written than good questions on board games or fast food chains or other stuff that often fills up that "misc" distro), but having 2 video games questions for every 3 movies questions seems like the wrong ratio based on any standard.

2) Subdistributions are crucial. I doubt anyone who understands that concept of a "trash tournament" will object to 4/4 sports, but when there is 1/1 hockey or 1 guaranteed NASCAR question or basically anything more than 2 questions in the packet combined that are not on the big five (NFL, DI NCAA football, NBA, DI NCAA men's basketball, and MLB) the tournament suddenly becomes obscurata bowl. Subdistros that emphasize crap that people in quizbowl don't care about like curling and country music have been the most consistent complaint about trash in the past, rather than complaints about the top-level distribution.

3) Post-1990 is not the best cutoff. You probably were born around 1990, judging from your signature. You have no reason to remember a TV show that went off the air when you were 2 years old. I would prefer a constantly moving cutoff that begins six or seven years before the current year, which I think is where most undergraduates would start remembering things. The cutoff should be more strictly enforced for ephemeral things (television, pop music) and less worried about for areas that people get into without regard to timing (movies, other forms of music).

4) Most trash tournaments have made it pretty clear that they're not interested in attracting new undergraduate participants or catering to what today's freshmen know; the vast majority of trash events are just social gatherings for a particular group of people aged 35-50 who would prefer to hear about stuff from their own wheelhouses. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be kept in mind before you engage in a Sisyphean effort to get yourself or your interests noticed.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by DumbJaques » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:14 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with points 1-3 of Matt's post.
4) Most trash tournaments have made it pretty clear that they're not interested in attracting new undergraduate participants or catering to what today's freshmen know; the vast majority of trash events are just social gatherings for a particular group of people aged 35-50 who would prefer to hear about stuff from their own wheelhouses. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be kept in mind before you engage in a Sisyphean effort to get yourself or your interests noticed.
It seems like there have been a couple of tournaments this year for which this is just not the case - GARBAGE and Penn trash spring to mind, as do the possibly imminent Fake Trashionals and Maryland trash tournament.That's 2-4 tournaments that don't fit that build, and I think there's interest in moving away from it. While I agree that there's not a great likelihood of getting certain people to jump aboard with all good quizbowl practices (good distribution among them), we can certainly try and develop a separate standard for what SHOULD be a good trash distribution. Who gives a crap if we can't change the face of TRASH, if new tournaments and writers spring up who strive for a much better goal? Right now the only real model is what has traditionally comprised trash (and, for the most part, that's TRASH in form if not always name), and providing an alternate model seems worthwhile enough to me.

EDIT: Er, yeah, when I have more time I'll get around to actually trying to do that, too.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:25 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:2) Subdistributions are crucial. I doubt anyone who understands that concept of a "trash tournament" will object to 4/4 sports, but when there is 1/1 hockey or 1 guaranteed NASCAR question or basically anything more than 2 questions in the packet combined that are not on the big five (NFL, DI NCAA football, NBA, DI NCAA men's basketball, and MLB) the tournament suddenly becomes obscurata bowl. Subdistros that emphasize crap that people in quizbowl don't care about like curling and country music have been the most consistent complaint about trash in the past, rather than complaints about the top-level distribution.
In certain areas of the country, hockey and NASCAR are popular enough to be major sports. They shouldn't be emphasized in tournaments with geographically dispersed mirrors, but if a Southeast trash tournament wants to have lots of NASCAR or a Great Lakes-area tournament wants extra hockey, there really isn't anything wrong with that.
Matt Weiner wrote:4) Most trash tournaments have made it pretty clear that they're not interested in attracting new undergraduate participants or catering to what today's freshmen know; the vast majority of trash events are just social gatherings for a particular group of people aged 35-50 who would prefer to hear about stuff from their own wheelhouses. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be kept in mind before you engage in a Sisyphean effort to get yourself or your interests noticed.
Is that really true for trash, or just TRASH? It seems like most independent trash tourneys this year have explicitly tried to gear their canon towards stuff that current college undergraduates would know. I suspect this is somewhat of an outdated stereotype. Also, 35 to 50 seems like an exaggeration; I suspect most of the trash-oldster crowd consists of people who were undergrads in the 1990s, which would indicate more of a 30 to 40 cohort- still noticeably old, but not quite as extreme.*

*ETA: This charitable interpretation is probably not true for the Rocky Mountain regional.
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:48 pm

I certainly agree with many of the points that Matt has made. In terms of the imperfect ratios between different categories, I think that is a product of me combining my own idea of optimal distribution with what I know others would like to see. Certainly, I would be more happy if a tournament just had 1/1 video games per packet, as I am not a video game buff, but for the Jeremy Eatons of the world and the many others who possess an affinity for video games, they would argue that 1/1 is not enough. In terms of the movie distribution, I would also be pleased with 4/4 rather than 3/3 for movies, as I think that would cater to my particular knowledge base, but I pegged Sports and TV as the two most pervasive elements of the trash core, which is also a matter up for debate. If I had the trash distribution specifically my way, I would probably get rid of most of the peripheral elements outside the core or emphasize them even less. I would be completely up to playing a tournament which had 16/16 of core elements per packet or even more for that matter, but I am not sure if others feel the same way.
Also, Matt is correct that I was born in 1990. I agree that I shouldn't be expected to remember TV shows that went off the air in 1992 or sports before I was born, but shouldn't one be recognized as a superior trash player if they do know those things? That is why I still think that the pre-1990 cutoff should function with some flexibility. Also, I do not think that pop music is necessarily so temporal. Certainly, memorable bands and even one-hit wonders stand the test of time. However, I do not condone tossing up bands that had one hit that barely cracked the top 40 back in 1982. There is no reason that someone under the age of thirty should reasonably know that band. So, I think that as of now, a flexible pre-1990 cutoff functions well for movies and music, and I think that many people actually have a fairly deep knowledge of some shows which aired before they were born or when they were young. However, I think that one needs to use good judgment when deciding which older shows fall within the younger trash canon and which, for the most part, do not. Certainly, I think that sports is possibly the most temporal of the core elements. Many sports bonuses that would have been extremely 30able in 2005 may only be 20able by most good teams now. Thus, I think the cutoff for a sports sub-distribution should probably be moved to a more current year in light of Matt's post.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:04 pm

Jamnman23 wrote:Also, Matt is correct that I was born in 1990. I agree that I shouldn't be expected to remember TV shows that went off the air in 1992 or sports before I was born, but shouldn't one be recognized as a superior trash player if they do know those things? That is why I still think that the pre-1990 cutoff should function with some flexibility.
Matt's not saying that things from before 1990 should be excluded; he's just saying that there shouldn't be a decade cutoff, but one that has to do with (I am approximating in an ugly way here) "casual" versus "serious" knowledge. That is, some number of questions in TV should be gettable from having attentively experienced the last n years of your life, and some proportion should not be. Perhaps by what you just said you're suggesting that that casual versus serious cutoff should occur around the third birthday of the tournament's "target age;" I think that's unreasonable unless you were raised to be a PROFESSIONAL TRASH PLAYER. Rather, setting a cutoff date shortly before the present makes more sense.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:08 pm

Yeah; if you're going to have a cutoff at all, it should be placed at a year that reflects the reason a cutoff exists.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:44 pm

I'd like to suggest that the cutoff shouldn't be universal across the packet, but should rather reflect the area of the distribution. TV and sports are more ephemeral (my idiosyncratic love of pre-merger NFL history notwithstanding), and probably should mandate something like 2/3 of the questions from the past 10 years or so. On the other hand, people who actually follow music and movies tend to delve into older material at some point, so those areas probably should focus less on "cutoffs" and more on maintaining a balanced time distribution that ensures both classic and modern material is well-represented.

The same goes for niche areas- mandating new material in board/card games is silly, while anything more lax than a couple of years on Internet questions leads to the possibility of questions on crap like the Hampster Dance and CompuServe, and I don't think anyone really wants that.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:51 pm

Yeah, I was getting at some sort of "casual" versus "serious" knowledge debate. By no means was I suggesting that three years old was a good cutoff for this. I just used 1992 as an example because Matt alluded to something like that. Additionally, I was not suggesting that Matt was saying to exclude pre-1990 content altogether. I agree that there should be some purposeful changing cutoff for what is "old" and what is "new", but I don't know by what we can judge what that year should be. Certainly, all people are of different ages, have different knowledge bases in different subjects, and have varied exposure to different pop culture elements. Thus, although assigning a non-arbitrary and purposeful cutoff would be optimal, it seems like a daunting task to assign different year cut-offs for different trash subjects that accurately reflect the knowledge base of most trash players.

Also, in response to Matt's post about the relatively high target age of TRASH, I do not know about other TRASH regionals this year, but at the mid-atlantic one, I only remember playing one team that consisted of adult non-students. At most, I only remember seeing 1-2 other teams that looked like they consisted of older non-students. This means that only 20% of teams at that site could possibly fall in the demographic Matt described. Maybe I just haven't been to enough trash/TRASH tournaments to have an accurate perspective or that particular tournament was not indicative of the demographic distribution that occurs at most TRASH tournaments.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jeaton1 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:16 pm

Perhaps I'm biased (as evidenced with the fact that my name has apparently come into use as a term for "quizbowl guy who likes video games"), but I disagree that video games do not deserve more than 1/1 in a TRASH packet. Video games have been around for nearly 35 years now and have been mainstream for 20 and I think that they are just as prominent an entertainment medium as movies and television today. If not given a full 2/2, I think that video games could at least exist in a trade-off of 2/1 or 1/2 with some other minor part of the distribution.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:21 pm

Jeaton1 wrote:If not given a full 2/2, I think that video games could at least exist in a trade-off of 2/1 or 1/2 with some other minor part of the distribution.
This seems more reasonable. To me it seems like "misc trash" is both the hardest to write and least likely to be answered, so personally I would support keeping sports, movies, and music at 4/4, TV at either 4/4 or 3/3, and still having the 2-3 video games questions. That leaves somewhere between 5 and 8 total questions for all that Internet/food/scifi-lit crap that no one likes anyway, which is more than enough. I would also support standardizing comics (covering comic books, comic strips, and webcomics) at 1/1 within that, further reducing the "undefinable nonsense" category to 3-6 total questions per round.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:44 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:all that Internet/food/scifi-lit crap that no one likes anyway
Not true, I like that crap. (Well, some of it at least. Internet and board/card games are two of my favorite topics.)

The real problem with questions on "other trash" is that "other trash" is ill-defined, and without a proper subdistribution, so things can be very variable between packets. The solution would be to make one- if we set aside 4/4 each for music, movies, and sports, and 3/3 for TV, then how about the following subdistribution for the last 5/5 in a packet?

Games- 2/2 (3 questions on video and computer games, 1 question on board/card games)
Comics/Trash Lit- 1/1 (preferably one each)
Businesses, Products, Toys, Food/Drink, Current Events- 1/1 (two different areas)
Internet- .5/.5
Other/Mixed- .5/.5
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:50 pm

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:all that Internet/food/scifi-lit crap that no one likes anyway
Not true, I like that crap. (Well, some of it at least. Internet and board/card games are two of my favorite topics.)

The real problem with questions on "other trash" is that "other trash" is ill-defined, and without a proper subdistribution, so things can be very variable between packets. The solution would be to make one- if we set aside 4/4 each for music, movies, and sports, and 3/3 for TV, then how about the following subdistribution for the last 5/5 in a packet?

Games- 2/2 (3 questions on video games, 1 question on board/card games)
Comics/Trash Lit- 1/1 (preferably one each)
Businesses, Products, Toys, Food/Drink, Current Events- 1/1 (two different areas)
Internet- .5/.5
Other/Mixed- .5/.5
Yeah I'm also a fan of that mixed crap category, and don't find it overly hard to write or anything.

My brief thoughts on trash distributions are that 1.5/1.5 videogames are fine, and that baseball arguably should be toned down a bit. The latter comes from the fact that probably 95% of baseball questions are on professional baseball, while basketball and football at least have a pretty close to even split between professional and college. In general I find sports questions to be extremely dull to both write and play on, and that they draw a much bigger "we hate this" response from a lot players than pretty much all other categories combined. But whatever, a sizeable block of people like sports and this isn't going to really change.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:54 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:The latter comes from the fact that probably 95% of baseball questions are on professional baseball, while basketball and football at least have a pretty close to even split between professional and college.
95% of baseball that anyone experiences is MLB, so I don't see a problem with this.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by DumbJaques » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:56 pm

I have never found a trash tournament that actually adhered to the theoretical limit on baseball questions that distributions place on any one particular sport.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:17 am

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:My brief thoughts on trash distributions are that 1.5/1.5 videogames are fine, and that baseball arguably should be toned down a bit. The latter comes from the fact that probably 95% of baseball questions are on professional baseball, while basketball and football at least have a pretty close to even split between professional and college. In general I find sports questions to be extremely dull to both write and play on, and that they draw a much bigger "we hate this" response from a lot players than pretty much all other categories combined. But whatever, a sizeable block of people like sports and this isn't going to really change.
The whole idea of a "big five" in sports kind of mystifies me- NFL and MLB are the big two (NFL bigger than MLB), and everything else is less popular, by various degrees and depending largely on where in the country you're from. Personally, I'd split the 4/4 up something like this:

1/1 NFL (and I guess a token once-per-tournament CFL question if you want)
1 question- MLB
1 question- more baseball OR niche team sport
1 question- basketball (pro and college)
1 question- college football, hockey, soccer
1 question- major individual sport (golf, tennis, motorsports)
1 question- Olympic sport, other individual sport OR mixed etc.

ETA: You could probably move some college football in with NFL, so long as the clear majority of that 1/1 was the pro game.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:28 am

As always, I base my assumptions on what is popular with quizbowl players, not what is popular with America or with college-aged people in general. While it's clear that the NFL and NBA should get more coverage then their college equivalents, the idea that basketball is not worth 1/1 per trash round is puzzling, as is equating it with individual sports.

It's easy to say that you can answer a tossup on Tiger Woods or the US Open, but the golf canon is very, very shallow. Do you know who Camilo Villegas is? He's the #9 ranked golfer in the world. He would be a hard bonus part at TRASHionals. Do you know nine NBA teams? Nine college basketball teams? Nine players? You probably know ninety or nine hundred. There's 30 NBA teams and 74 major-conference NCAA basketball teams, any of whom is easily tossupable; there's easily 100 basketball players that any casual sports fan will know, plus all sorts of auxiliary stuff like smaller conferences, events, etc. In contrast, there are about five current golfers and ten historical ones that any non-golf-fan has heard of. Even multiplying that by 3 or 4 to account for men's tennis, women's tennis, and anything else you want to put in that category, you still get nowhere near the same number of viable answers as basketball has.

{Popularity among the quizbowl audience} + {the potential to come up with good, answerable questions for a year's worth of tournament} = {appropriate level of emphasis in trash}
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:46 am

I think a better way to do this would be as follows - assuming you're limiting the distro to 4/4:

2.5/2.5 MLB, NFL and NBA
1/1 College sports
0.5/0.5 other sports (NHL, Nascar, Olympics, golf, tennis, etc.)

I agree with Matt that the canon for sports like golf and tennis are more limited, and I think Chris's distro is still weighted a bit too much towards the minor sports. Using Chris' distro, one could conceivably have a round featuring questions on tennis, soccer, curling (what exactly qualifies as a niche team sport?), NASCAR and women's figure skating and still fit the requirements.

It's easy to argue that professional baseball, football and/or basketball all deserve 1/1 per round; despite my love of NASCAR, I'd still rather hear questions on major sports than get to round 12 of a tournament and find that someone has decided to toss up Derrike Cope in order to fit the distro. I'm probably being a little extremist here, but I think a bias towards the non-major sports is not a good thing.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:48 am

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:all that Internet/food/scifi-lit crap that no one likes anyway
Not true, I like that crap. (Well, some of it at least. Internet and board/card games are two of my favorite topics.)

The real problem with questions on "other trash" is that "other trash" is ill-defined, and without a proper subdistribution, so things can be very variable between packets. The solution would be to make one- if we set aside 4/4 each for music, movies, and sports, and 3/3 for TV, then how about the following subdistribution for the last 5/5 in a packet?

Games- 2/2 (3 questions on video games, 1 question on board/card games)
Comics/Trash Lit- 1/1 (preferably one each)
Businesses, Products, Toys, Food/Drink, Current Events- 1/1 (two different areas)
Internet- .5/.5
Other/Mixed- .5/.5
Yeah I'm also a fan of that mixed crap category, and don't find it overly hard to write or anything.

My brief thoughts on trash distributions are that 1.5/1.5 videogames are fine, and that baseball arguably should be toned down a bit. The latter comes from the fact that probably 95% of baseball questions are on professional baseball, while basketball and football at least have a pretty close to even split between professional and college. In general I find sports questions to be extremely dull to both write and play on, and that they draw a much bigger "we hate this" response from a lot players than pretty much all other categories combined. But whatever, a sizeable block of people like sports and this isn't going to really change.
I agree with Matt in the sense that I would be up for scrapping a lot of the random crap that "nobody" likes. However, it appears that some people do like those categories, even though I am not one of them. Also, if one of the core categories is slightly de-emphasized, I probably would have also de-emphasized TV, but I am fine with it being either 3/3 or 4/4. I would be in big support of the core of most trash tournaments comprising either 15/15 or 16/16. In terms of the debate regarding sports questions in trash, I have met many trash players who are not big sports fans, but I also met many who know tons about sports. However, my perception of the way people feel about sports questions is more centered around the way they are written and not their existence or level of existence. For example, there are only so many ways to write a toss-up on an athlete. Usually, it runs chronologically, starting with some obscure thing they did in high school and then maybe mentions college, depending on the sport, and then finally talks about their biggest accomplishment or most famous professional team. In this regard, I agree that sports questions can often times be stale, but I still enjoy answering them.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Kevin » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:51 am

The one trash tournament I've attended this year was Trashmasters at UTC, where my team (all college students) got soundly whipped by all but one of the other teams there. The one team we beat? The one other team of college students. My teammates (none of whom had been to a single trash tournament before) grumbled about the subject matter--saying that the teams of players in their 30s and 40s were writing questions for people of their age. Yet that wasn't really a problem when we were playing against people our own age. Most of the stuff being asked was stuff someone of college age could reasonably know, but we would never have the depth to beat one of the older teams to most of the answers.

As for date cutoffs, obviously there is going to be a difference in terms of how deep you can go for newer stuff compared to older stuff--the answer space of things in, say, this year's NCAA basketball tournament is a lot bigger than about a tournament 30 or 40 (or even 10) years ago--you could write about Siena beating Ohio State in the 1st round where you couldn't write about most first round games of many years ago. But that doesn't mean a question about Phi Slama Jama or Michigan State vs. Indiana State would be out of place. Personally I think there's plenty of room for tournaments to have slightly different time guidelines--and that tends to happen naturally depending on the field. If your field is almost all college teams, you'll probably get a lot more recent stuff. As long as people are upfront in their packet submission guidelines, I don't see why this should be a problem. Hell, I wouldn't mind playing a tournament that was comprised entirely of post-2000 questions (or pre-2000 questions, for that matter) as long as I knew what I was getting in advance.

I tend to like the "miscellaneous" stuff, although I do think the lack of specificity in guidelines can be a problem. Also, some categories are tougher to write than others. It seems like every internet question is about rickrolling or lolcats, most of the card game questions are on various WSOP champs, and most of the board game questions are on Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico. For the internet questions, especially, I think the list of possible answers are just a little too small even to require that there be at least 1/0 or 0/1 per packet. I like food/drink questions a lot, although sometimes they do delve a bit too much into "name this cocktail no one in the history of the world has ever ordered" territory, but there's plenty of possible answers--things about cooking, chain restaurants, local and regional cuisines, etc.

Music: 4/4
Sports: 4/4
Movies: 3/3
TV: 3/3

Video games: 2/1 or 1/2
Board/card games: 0/1 or 1/0

Comics (books, internet, strips): 1/1
Food/drink: 1/1
Consumer stuff/travel/trash lit/internet memes: 2/1 or 1/2 (max of 1 question for any one of those topics)
Musical theatre: 0/1 or 1/0

I actually think 1/1 Broadway should be standard for every trash packet, ever. (But I admit, that's probably just me. I really, really, want to write a musical theatre side event, but I only know of two people who have expressed interest.) Seriously, though, the answer space is huge, the time range goes back more than half a century, and with the number of movie musicals out lately, and the number of film/TV stars who have appeared in Broadway shows, there's plenty of clues that could be written to reward good musical theatre knowledge while still having a gettable getaway clue ("She appeared in a revival of Gypsy and the Arthur Laurents/Stephen Sondheim flop Anyone Can Whistle blah blah blah FTP name this star of Murder, She Wrote.").
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jeaton1 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:57 am

I'll be one of the few to advocate a space for a musical theatre distribution though given the amount of quizbowl players who are into such a thing I can't imagine any more than 1/0 or 0/1 per packet.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:05 am

everyday847 wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:The latter comes from the fact that probably 95% of baseball questions are on professional baseball, while basketball and football at least have a pretty close to even split between professional and college.
95% of baseball that anyone experiences is MLB, so I don't see a problem with this.
95% is quite an understatement here. The level of popularity for college baseball is virtually nil; tossing a question up on this would only end in blood and tears.
Matt Weiner wrote:{Popularity among the quizbowl audience} + {the potential to come up with good, answerable questions for a year's worth of tournament} = {appropriate level of emphasis in trash}
This was my goal with GARBAGE and I think this is a really good standard that people need to follow.

Also, 1/1 Broadway would be pure insanity. I just don't believe there's enough noteworthy answer space to lead to those questions being converted. I think the same issue would happen that seems to happen with trash list; yeah, a lot of people buy those books, but how many of them play quiz bowl?
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Kevin » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:17 am

As for the sports distribution I think it's clear that football, basketball, and baseball are the big three, with football is clearly ahead of the other two. Unfortunately, the fact that college football and basketball are big deals while college baseball is very hard to ask about make it tough to balance the three. Out of a 4/4 sports distribution, I think one on NFL, one on NCAA football, one on the NBA, one on college basketball (with maybe 10-15% on women's instead of men's), and one on MLB is quite reasonable. That leaves three questions left over, one of which can be another baseball question (MLB or otherwise, but mostly MLB). Arguably this undervalues baseball, but given that college baseball is not popular, the number of possible baseball answers is smaller than the total number of basketball or football answers, so I don't think there's anything wrong with having baseball come up less than the other big two. Arguably football should come up more than basketball; I guess you can throw in the occasional CFL or Arena League question or that toss-up on the A-11 you've been dying to write.

That leaves two to three questions per round for the minor sports. That includes soccer, hockey, golf, tennis, auto racing, horse racing, Olympic sports, extreme sports, and pro wrestling (if you want to include it here), almost all of which have fairly large answer spaces. It also includes various other sports which could be toss-up answers or subjects to build a bonus around (rugby, lacrosse, cricket, Aussie rules football, sailing, etc.). I think the important thing with the minor sports is for editors to balance them across the tournament. With good balancing, in a tournament of 12 packets you should be seeing about 30 questions on these minor sports, with no more than three or four questions for some of the more notable ones (hockey, golf, soccer, auto racing). And the canon in each of those is plenty deep enough to support three or four questions per tournament.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Kevin » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:23 am

FredMorlan wrote:Also, 1/1 Broadway would be pure insanity. I just don't believe there's enough noteworthy answer space to lead to those questions being converted. I think the same issue would happen that seems to happen with trash list; yeah, a lot of people buy those books, but how many of them play quiz bowl?
That's why I didn't seriously argue for it. But I do think 0/1 or 1/0 is fair; for one, it takes away part of the pesky "miscellaneous" distribution and gives something pretty well-defined for people to write on.

As for college baseball, I agree it's quite minor but it does have a decent following in some places--one toss-up per tournament on a major program like USC, Texas, Arizona State, or LSU would be reasonable, as would a bonus question about the most recent CWS. And also, the "other" baseball category could also include the occasional Japanese or World Baseball Classic question.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by OntarioQuizzer » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:31 am

Matt Weiner wrote:As always, I base my assumptions on what is popular with quizbowl players, not what is popular with America or with college-aged people in general.
I hate this point. If {the people in North America that follow cricket} just happens to be identical to {the people in North America that play quiz bowl} (i.e. all quiz bowl players like cricket and no non-quiz bowl players like cricket), would this mean that you'd be advocating 1/1 cricket?
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Susan » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:46 am

OntarioQuizzer wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:As always, I base my assumptions on what is popular with quizbowl players, not what is popular with America or with college-aged people in general.
I hate this point. If {the people in North America that follow cricket} just happens to be identical to {the people in North America that play quiz bowl} (i.e. all quiz bowl players like cricket and no non-quiz bowl players like cricket), would this mean that you'd be advocating 1/1 cricket?
If you replace "cricket" with a topic for which your statement more or less holds true (e.g., quiz bowl meta), I think the answer to the question is often "yes."
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by OntarioQuizzer » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:13 am

Assuming that we have the goal of "wanting to reach as large of an audience as possible", wouldn't such an insular distribution only serve to isolate quiz bowl from the mainstream?
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:18 am

OntarioQuizzer wrote:Assuming that we have the goal of "wanting to reach as large of an audience as possible", wouldn't such an insular distribution only serve to isolate quiz bowl from the mainstream?
I don't think trash is, generally speaking, the quizbowl community's flagship product. If by next year 50% of circuit quizbowlers watch Bananas in Pajamas every morning, then the trash distribution ought to change so at least two questions per round are on children's programming. But that change would happen because a large number of toddlers are playing ACF Fall for some reason, not because we want our trash tournaments to appeal more to the "general public."

But for the most part, it makes more sense for the trash distribution to reflect the interests of who currently plays it (rather than "who we want to recruit to play it"), and if that population changes, then the distribution changes, within reason.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Coelacanth » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:41 am

This is a great discussion. Two quick thoughts:

Re: the Matt/Andys discussion about target audience, I think this varies by tournament. I would like to see the Venn diagram of "people who play quizbowl", "college age people" and "North Americans 18 and older". Anyway, I think the audience for TRASH is the latter, the audience for GARBAGE is the former, and each event is written and edited with its particular audience in mind. There doesn't have to be one single answer that applies for all trash tournaments.

Re: time periods. I've always been an advocate of the thirds approach. About 1/3 of your questions are "current", things from the past, say, 2-3 years which are top-of-mind due to recent newsworthiness but may not have lasting significance. One third of your questions are from the past (some number) of years; these are things that your target audience is old enough to know from experiencing them as they happened. Then the final third is older stuff, but it should really be "significant" (if that word applies in the trash context); a question on the Bird/Magic NCAA finals is good, a question on the 1978 Chicago Bulls not so much.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by BuzzerZen » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:03 am

everyday847 wrote:a large number of toddlers are playing ACF Fall for some reason
I hope this happens.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by answerguy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:23 am

I'm not sure I want to say too much in here, as I'm working furiously on writing the questions for TRASHionals.

I know I've written over the past couple of sets with an eye towards keeping in mind that there is a pretty broad target age range we aim for, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to write a lot about works and personalities and products that don't transcend their immediate time frame.

Things do evolve, whether we're talking about TRASHionals or submission tournaments. The distribution TRASH used, say, 5 years ago, is not quite the distribution we use now.

I can't speak for anyone save myself but I certainly read what people write, try to separate the more cogent criticisms about what we do and what we should be doing from the rest while keeping in mind that the people who are satisfied are less likely to turn up on threads like this one.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:10 pm

My highly subjective comments on a trash distribution:

SPORTS
-Don't go statistic heavy. I hate sports questions that use clues like "He has a career average of .270 and once hit .350 in 1972 and scored 110 runs."
-Sports questions also sometimes result in verbal diarrhea, generally because while it sounds good when you see the answer, it doesn't sound good to the person hearing it. Nebulous phrases like "known best for his defense," "known for his tape-measure home runs," etc. are worthless.
-While they are important clues (sometimes), resist dropping "he went to this college" clues too early.
-Use common sense is remembering that the average American likes baseball, football, and basketball more than hockey, golf, soccer, etc. You can write about any of those sports, but the canon is far greater in the former than the latter.
-Avoid bonuses that are just "screw you." Example: "Name these members of the 2008 Cleveland Indians," when all of the clues are just about what those players did that year. You've just screwed anybody who didn't follow the 2008 Indians.

MOVIES
-Before writing a tossup on a movie, think about "Is this a notable film? If I went up to people and started talking about it, would people recall incidents [i.e., not just the basic plot or the title]?" This will eliminate tossups on films that the question writer just saw on TV or something.
-Don't write stuff like "Jack Nicholson was once considered for the lead role." Besides being highly nebulous as to its veracity, these clues are generally worthless unless they are really well known (and then they're just stock clues, like "Buddy Ebsen was going to play a part in this film").
-I don't know how to explain this, but don't write lazy clues like "Newman from Seinfeld appears in this movie." Newman has a name--it's Wayne Knight. Unless he's actually appearing AS Newman, don't say that.
-Nobody cares if it's the "second film of Jack Black" or the "third film directed by Edgar Ulmer." Even if they did, that would be rewarding list knowledge.
-Avoid verbal diarrhea phrases like "the film was criticized for its confusing script" or "the ending of this film is highly controversial."
-Avoid bonuses that are just "screw you." Like, "Name these characters from the movie Office Space." If I've never seen the movie, how am I supposed to do this? Ask about the movie Office Space and then you can use a character as a part and then an actor or a plot point or whatever.

MUSIC
-Don't use clues about its chart placement. Does anyone care that "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" was ousted as #1 song by "Theme from Shaft"?
-Keep album titles to a minimum. While some are highly notable, many are not. And yet they keep getting written about.
-This is just me, but I'm not a fan of clues about songs that prattle on and on about "cover versions."
-I'm also not crazy about music questions that reward non music knowledge initially (this actually goes for every part of this distribution). I guess it would be okay to eventually say "This song is heard at the end of the movie The Killing Fields," but it seems like you want to reward people who actually know stuff about the song "Imagine" first.
-Again, just use common sense about songs, bands, especially on older things.

TV
-TV questions tend to lend themselves to verbal list blathering, especially regarding characters. "He once ate toast in his bed, slept in until 3 PM and missed a bus, drove to New Jersey in a Pinto, blah blah blah." Besides being annoying to hear, the sheer vagueness of these clues don't usually result in buzzes. Give deeper explanations to reward real knowledge and not just "being able to put together choppy clues" ability.
-While you can eventually drop them, avoid dropping episode titles immediately on questions about TV shows.
-TV characters are a tough breed. I find nothing wrong about using good, solid, well-written hard clues to tossup well known TV characters. Like there's nothing wrong with tossing up Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock or Jim Halpert on The Office even if they are very well known. This, to me, is infinitely superior than tossing up whoever Will Arnett plays on 30 Rock or Roy from The Office. Use the tough characters as a tough part on a bonus part.
-Again, no "screw you" bonuses, like having to name three characters from one show.
-Nobody knows or cares about a show's Nielsen rating, numbers of episodes in any of its seasons, number of episodes a character appears in.

FOR ALL OF THESE: Nobody cares about where a movie, song, or TV show falls on some "50 Greatest ____" list.

VIDEO GAMES
*Generally speaking, this is the category that seems to offend me the least in most trash packets. The biggest problems are just stuff like "verbal diarrhea" ("This game is considered one of the finest for the SNES") and "screw you" bonuses ("Name these characters from Earthbound"). On the whole, I think people have a pretty good idea of what is canonical here. At least, I haven't run into major problems.

COMIC BOOKS
-Don't write stuff like "He first appeared in Whiz Bang Comics #29" to lead-in questions.
-Try and think rationally about which comic book characters to write about. Generally speaking, characters that have appeared in some form of media are probably more tossupable than others.
-See the stuff about TV characters and don't do that when writing tossups on comic characters.

IN GENERAL
*Use the academic principles of writing, man. They don't change when you write trash, to wit:

-Use sources, dammit! Wikipedia is invaluable for trash, but they don't compensate for actually having SEEN a TV show or a movie or heard a song. While it is obviously impossible sometimes to have personally viewed everything you are writing about, in this day of Youtube and Hulu, you should at least take a quick glimpse if you can. There are way too many questions I've seen in which (at least to me) the writer had never actually seen/listened to what he or she was writing about.

-Like the vast majority of academic tournaments, the vast majority of trash tournaments should have in mind "Most teams should be able to answer these questions by the giveaways." Like in my regard, I hope I can answer most humanities questions by the giveaway at most academic tourneys (I can't do that for science), so ideally I should be able to answer most movies/TV questions by the giveaway at most trash tourneys (but not music). I hope that makes sense.

-Use pronouns and use them well. Trash tossups at times seem to pride themselves in "FIGURE OUT WHAT I WANT, FOOLZ" by firing off crazy lists at you or just using sentences ("Jack goes to a shopping mall in Connecticut to look for oranges") to describe a movie's plot.

-Similarly, binary bonuses or list bonuses suck. Like, "Name who played these TV characters" or "Give me the setting of these James Bond films." Actually write something.

That was long and ranty but make of it what you will.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:18 pm

Cheynem wrote: -Avoid bonuses that are just "screw you." Example: "Name these members of the 2008 Cleveland Indians," when all of the clues are just about what those players did that year. You've just screwed anybody who didn't follow the 2008 Indians.
That sounds like a personal problem to me. :cowboy:

Mike's post is really fantastic and should be considered by everyone who writes trash.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Coelacanth » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:19 pm

I agree that Mike's post is great. A few quibbles...
Cheynem wrote:-Keep album titles to a minimum. While a few are highly notable, most are not. And yet they keep getting written about.
Fixed for emphasis.


Cheynem wrote:-TV characters are a tough breed. I find nothing wrong about using good, solid, well-written hard clues to tossup well known TV characters. Like there's nothing wrong with tossing up Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock or Jim Halpert on The Office even if they are very well known. This, to me, is infinitely superior than tossing up whoever Will Arnett plays on 30 Rock or Roy from The Office. Use the tough characters as a tough part on a bonus part.
This paragraph depends entirely on your definition of "well known". To me, none of the examples listed are well known; I've never heard of any of them. My rule in general is that if you have to be a regular viewer of the show in order to know the answer, then it's not good tossup material. Too many question writers make the implicit assumption that nearly all trash players watch 30 Rock/West Wing/Lost/Veronica Mars/whatever. I agree with Mike; make characters and show concepts bonus parts and have actors and titles be your tossup answers.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:06 pm

Coelacanth wrote:
Cheynem wrote:-TV characters are a tough breed. I find nothing wrong about using good, solid, well-written hard clues to tossup well known TV characters. Like there's nothing wrong with tossing up Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock or Jim Halpert on The Office even if they are very well known. This, to me, is infinitely superior than tossing up whoever Will Arnett plays on 30 Rock or Roy from The Office. Use the tough characters as a tough part on a bonus part.
This paragraph depends entirely on your definition of "well known". To me, none of the examples listed are well known; I've never heard of any of them. My rule in general is that if you have to be a regular viewer of the show in order to know the answer, then it's not good tossup material. Too many question writers make the implicit assumption that nearly all trash players watch 30 Rock/West Wing/Lost/Veronica Mars/whatever. I agree with Mike; make characters and show concepts bonus parts and have actors and titles be your tossup answers.
I'm going to slightly disagree. At a higher-level tournament (i.e. in general not a "novice" trash tournament, but perhaps a "regular difficulty" trash tournament, and certainly at an above-regular-difficulty event), major characters from television shows/movies that are reasonably well-known are tossupable. I don't think anyone would object to a tossup on Luke Skywalker on accessibility grounds at any level; similarly, I don't think there is anything wrong with tossuping Michael Scott at a "regular-difficulty" tournament or Al Bundy at an "above-regular-difficulty" tournament. This is the trash equivalent of "internal canon expansion" in literature - tossups on Okonkwo or Holden Caulfield are perfectly acceptable at certain difficulty levels; a blanket statement that "You can only write tossups on Things Fall Apart or Chinua Achebe" (basically the academic equivalent of your statement) would probably be a good idea at lower levels but a terrible idea at higher levels.

This is where that whole "trash has no canon" problem comes into play - there is a canon, but it's not so much "what comes up" as "what types of things are too difficult for my target difficulty." Album titles, role players, and niche comics are probably okay at higher levels of trash; they're not really acceptable (unless it's something like Quadrophenia which is equally/more well known compared to any of the individual songs on it) at lower levels. The key is that for each answer type, "higher levels" and "lower levels" are relative.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by answerguy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:20 pm

Coelacanth wrote:I agree that Mike's post is great. A few quibbles...
Cheynem wrote:-Keep album titles to a minimum. While a few are highly notable, most are not. And yet they keep getting written about.
Fixed for emphasis.
I hear this said a lot, here and elsewhere.

To the extent the complaint is about album titles as answers....while I can't speak for what people are writing about at submission tournaments, I can say that the most recent TRASH regionals and TRASHionals (i.e. last year) sets had approximately one album title TU for every three rounds, maybe slightly more. They come up a little more frequently in bonus questions than that, but such is the nature of the beast as you're asking for three or more answers as opposed to one answer. Most artists, even some who have enough notability to merit entire TUs or entire Bs about them, don't really have album titles who make valid answer spaces.

I try to make sure that when I write a TU that asks for an album, that it either is as famous or more famous than the individual songs contained within (I wrote an "In Rainbows" TU for TRASHionals '08; it's IMO more TU-able than any of its singles) or, failing that, is at least known for more than one of its tracks and distinctive enough that asking about it is in some way fundamentally different than a TU on the artist or a song would be.

To the extent it's about whether album titles should be clues as to artists or songs, I'm just going to have to disagree with this criticism.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Coelacanth » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:44 pm

Tim

To be clear, my objection is to tossups of the form "Guest artist X plays the xylophone on Track 2 of this album. Two songs mention laundromats in the lyrics, and the CD version has a bonus instrumental track entitled Granola. Also including songs such as Generic Title and Whateveria, for 10 points name this album produced by That Oneguy, a 1997 release by Artist that includes the hit singles Megahit and Blockbuster".

The use of album titles as clues in tossups about songs and artists is much more palatable to the extent that such clues are useful. Things like "this song is the 4th track on both greatest hits collections in which it appears" are worthless; dropping an album title late in a tossup to narrow the field of guessable answers is helpful and appropriate.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:59 pm

Coelacanth wrote:Tim

To be clear, my objection is to tossups of the form "Guest artist X plays the xylophone on Track 2 of this album. Two songs mention laundromats in the lyrics, and the CD version has a bonus instrumental track entitled Granola. Also including songs such as Generic Title and Whateveria, for 10 points name this album produced by That Oneguy, a 1997 release by Artist that includes the hit singles Megahit and Blockbuster".

The use of album titles as clues in tossups about songs and artists is much more palatable to the extent that such clues are useful. Things like "this song is the 4th track on both greatest hits collections in which it appears" are worthless; dropping an album title late in a tossup to narrow the field of guessable answers is helpful and appropriate.
I certainly think that album clues should remain a part of music tossups and I have no problem with them being an answer to a music bonus, and the occasional album tossup is not horrible, but I have rarely played an album tossup question that was buzzed on much before the giveaway. The only examples I can recall of albums that I have seen handled somewhat or significantly before the giveaway were Slippery When Wet andJagged Little Pill, both of which I believe are albums famous and significant enough to merit a tossup. Certainly albums as clues to tossups help to separate levels of knowledge, so I think less famous albums are fine as earlier clues and more famous ones are fine as later clues. For example, at GARBAGE, I buzzed in fairly early on a Tears for Fears tossup. It mentioned the name of their debut album, which I happened to know. So, I see no problem with using album titles in appropriate places for both tossup clues and bonus answers, in addition to the occasional tossing up of a very significant album.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:03 pm

The whole harping on album titles as a suspect category misses the point. If the answer is notable and important and can be converted at satisfactory rates, then toss it up. If not, then don't. While most artists are best known for individual songs rather than albums, sometimes the opposite is true (especially for rock and jazz), and in those cases, albums can and should be tossed up.

Note: In Rainbows is super-famous and super-important and super-recent and ought to be fair game for a tossup at any tournament of any difficulty level. Quadrophenia, while awesome and important and reasonably famous, is something I would hesitate tossing up at a novice tournament, but it's a fine choice for a bonus part or at a hard tournament.
myamphigory wrote:
OntarioQuizzer wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:As always, I base my assumptions on what is popular with quizbowl players, not what is popular with America or with college-aged people in general.
I hate this point. If {the people in North America that follow cricket} just happens to be identical to {the people in North America that play quiz bowl} (i.e. all quiz bowl players like cricket and no non-quiz bowl players like cricket), would this mean that you'd be advocating 1/1 cricket?
If you replace "cricket" with a topic for which your statement more or less holds true (e.g., quiz bowl meta), I think the answer to the question is often "yes."
Well, school-year tournaments shouldn't have meta.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:45 pm

Absolutely, regarding characters--I picked two characters (Jack from 30 Rock and Jim from The Office) that I think would be fair game at a reasonable level difficulty tournament. What I generally meant by the example is that if you tossup characters, it should generally be on one of the most important characters from a show. That doesn't mean you can tossup "Jamie Buchman" or "Nina Van Horn" because they're some of the most important characters on Mad About You or Just Shoot Me!, but I just think a good rule of thumb is "If I'm tossing up a character, it should be an important character from a popular/well known show." Some latitude, I guess, can be taken involving programs that feature a multitude of characters, some of which become seminal regardless of importance (Quagmire isn't that important to Family Guy, but he's tossupable, I think, as are a host of Simpsons characters).
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:22 pm

Could someone outline why album tossups are so bad? I just don't see it.

Obviously, you don't want to tossup How Does Your Garden Grow?, but you could easily tossup Born in the USA. Just conform to difficulty standards. Just like how in academic quizbowl, no one tosses up Put Out More Flags; instead, they stick with Brideshead Revisited. Also, stay away from albums with a one hit wonder. Seriously, no one will be getting that super awesome tossup on Tonic's Lemon Parade. So, basically, ask about albums people listen to. Is there anything wrong with this?
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Coelacanth » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:33 pm

Charlie, fair questions.

I don't think anyone is objecting to the really iconic albums like Born in the USA.

The issue here is that people, especially today, tend not to listen to music in album form. People your age get music out of an mp3 player and people my age get it out of an arcane device called a radio. In neither case do we know or care what album the song came from. Why ask for the name of the album when it's not really relevant and you could just as easily ask about the artist or one of the songs?
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:34 pm

la2pgh wrote:Seriously, no one will be getting that super awesome tossup on Tonic's Lemon Parade. So, basically, ask about albums people listen to. Is there anything wrong with this?
I am listening to this album _right now_. Weird.

But no - albums should be tossed up, but they should be picked intelligently.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:40 pm

Yeah, I totally agree with Charlie. I've gotten album questions before and I've heard good album questions before. It's just that just like with the non Big Three sports and other niche areas, there's a LIMITED amount of album titles that can reasonably be tossed up. Also, there should NEVER be more than one "name this album" question in a match (I'm looking at you, ridiculous Rob Pilatus round!).
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:55 pm

Coelacanth wrote:The issue here is that people, especially today, tend not to listen to music in album form. People your age get music out of an mp3 player and people my age get it out of an arcane device called a radio. In neither case do we know or care what album the song came from. Why ask for the name of the album when it's not really relevant and you could just as easily ask about the artist or one of the songs?
What about the fact that magazines and web sites usually review albums, not individual songs? I'd have to think that albums maintain some importance, though they should definitely not be asked about as often or anywhere near as often as songs or artists.

Still, this has to be handled intelligently: The Hazards of Love, The Black Album (or even The Grey Album) and In Rainbows are all easily TUable. Stuff like Working on a Dream and Portishead's Third could possibly work as TUs, but you're approaching the level where you have to wonder if it'd just be more effective to go with the artist or a particular song. After that, you'd be a fool to TU Attack and Release rather than The Black Keys or Kala rather than M.I.A. After all, the point isn't to show off your esoteric knowledge on a pet subject while the people with the buzzers wonder if they have enough cord on those damned pieces of plastic to fashion a cat o' nine tails.

Which brings me to something that was mentioned up thread but I didn't really hit on it: the so-called trash canon. For any area of material, certain things will be better known than others. Since we got about eleventy million submissions on it, I'll use the X-Men as an example.

Most people are going to at least get Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, or Cyclops by the giveaway. These characters would make good TU subjects for an entry level tournament, or your normal "easy" part of a bonus. Jubilee, Bishop, Cannonball, Dazzler, Emma Frost, Cable are less known, but still have some name value, so they probably will work well as a TU subject for your "regular" difficulty tournaments or a middle part of a bonus (depending on difficulty). When you get to characters like Xorn, Northstar, Armor, Moira MacTaggert, you're reaching your nationals level difficulty TU answers and your hard parts of most bonuses. You just need to use some common sense when choosing your subject matter. By doing so, you're making a lot of progress towards better questions.

This is why I don't buy the "this is fine for professional trash players" argument. Yeah, you may be satisfying a small number of your customers, but unless you're marketing your tournament exclusively to "professionals", then you're making a mistake.

Basically, just because you could write a good tossup on Haystacks Calhoun (for ten points, name this mountain of a man...) doesn't mean you should.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:29 pm

Working on a Dream probably should not be tossed up, dude. It isn't on its way to being iconic or even very popular (much to my dismay).
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:33 pm

Cheynem wrote:Absolutely, regarding characters--I picked two characters (Jack from 30 Rock and Jim from The Office) that I think would be fair game at a reasonable level difficulty tournament. What I generally meant by the example is that if you tossup characters, it should generally be on one of the most important characters from a show. That doesn't mean you can tossup "Jamie Buchman" or "Nina Van Horn" because they're some of the most important characters on Mad About You or Just Shoot Me!, but I just think a good rule of thumb is "If I'm tossing up a character, it should be an important character from a popular/well known show." Some latitude, I guess, can be taken involving programs that feature a multitude of characters, some of which become seminal regardless of importance (Quagmire isn't that important to Family Guy, but he's tossupable, I think, as are a host of Simpsons characters).
I would actually very much appreciate a "Nina Van Horn" tossup, but that probably is not fair game for a regular difficulty trash tournament. I agree that character tossups should always have a character from a popular show, but as Mike alluded to, main characters may not always be the best route to go for a tossup. Often times, slightly more minor or quirky, but memorable characters can also make great tossups. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the "Newman" tossup at GARBAGE. Additionally, I wrote a tossup on "Wilson" from Home Improvement for GARBAGE, and the people I have talked to seemed to like that one as well. In other words, the characters don't always have to be a main character like Homer Simpson to be tossed up. Characters like Quagmire, Newman, or Wilson can make very effective and fun tossups.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:42 pm

tetragrammatology wrote:Working on a Dream probably should not be tossed up, dude. It isn't on its way to being iconic or even very popular (much to my dismay).
I think Fred correctly identified it as a borderline case. Like, I think that if the artist is iconic, then his or hermost recent album is bound to be at least borderline tossupable. One year from now, it will certainly not be tossupable, and twenty years from now, it will be about as tossupable as Magic, I guess.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:54 pm

The reason I listed it as a borderline case is because of what Andy posted.
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Re: Proposed trash/TRASH guidelines

Post by Jamnman23 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:15 am

I definitely think that the most recent albums of prominent artists should be considered as possible toss-ups. Recentness can compensate for relatively mediocre popularity, success, or importance. This is not just true of music, but can be seen in other categories as well. For example, in the next month or two, any trash tournament would be justified in asking fairly specific questions about the NCAA tournament, but even by next fall, those questions could be deemed unreasonable. In terms of movies, one would be justified in writing a bonus that included Oscar nominees of this year that did not necessarily win any awards. A couple of years from now, questions such as this would probably not be appropriate for a regular level tournament. At the moment I cannot think of a proper equivalent for TV, but you get the picture. The overall message here is that trash canon should logically expand with respect to a given subject/event the more recent that subject/event has occurred or is relevant. This may seem like an obvious statement that everyone knows, but as great a fan I am of much 1980s trash, I still believe that more minor recent occurrences can often function as better trash subjects than a more prominent subject that is 25 years old. This factor should definitely be considered when one is pondering the distribution they wish to see for their own trash tournaments and for ones they wish to play.
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