Attention must be paid

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Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:58 pm

...to correct formatting! It takes you, the writer, zero seconds to use the correct format. It takes editors a lot longer to render an entire tournament set homogeneous when writers refuse to abide by the official standards.

Because apparently everyone is forgetting...

-For tossups, it's "For 10 points, ..." or ..., for 10 points, ..." It is NEVER "for ten points" or "FTP" or "F10P".
-It's always "ANSWER: " and never "Answer:"
-There's a space between the [10] and the text of the bonus prompt.

For bonus leadins, there are two formats, depending if the "for 10 points each" is integrated into the sentence.

Format 1. "This conflict included the Battle of Narva. For 10 points each:"
Format 2. "Name the following about the Russo-Japanese War, for 10 points each."

Those are the only correct formats. It is never correct to say "For 10 points each," or "For 10 points each;" and I'm really sick of seeing it. FTPE or F10PE are not correct. "Name the following about the Russo-Japanese War, for 10 points each:" is not correct. "This conflict included the Battle of Narva, for 10 points each." is not correct. There are only two ways to do it, and once you've picked your bonus leadin structure, there is only one correct way. Use it!

Alternate answers are in brackets, not parentheses. Prompts are underlined, not in quotes. Do not accepts are in quotes, not underlined. Alternate answers should all be in brackets and separated by semicolons. There have also been several pitiful answer lines that have left out many acceptable and often-used alternate answers.

Look, the reason I'm posting this is because there was a better effort to conform to packet formatting guidelines at ACF Fall last year than there was among the experienced teams that wrote for Minnesota Open this year. It's just plain unacceptable and reflects an attitude of laziness. The editors bear the brunt of doing minutes of housecleaning on each of your questions, and it increases our time investment significantly.

Please, everyone, read http://acf-quizbowl.com/documents/packe ... formatting before you submit your next batch of questions. Editors already have enough on their hands with the typical lateness and lackluster quality of submissions as it is.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:09 pm

Apparently, the cost to ACF of correcting these formatting errors is only $15 divided by the number of ACF editors on any given tournament. For instance, ACF Fall has 5 or 6 editors this year, so each individual editor incurs $2.50 in costs per malformatted packet. And, of course, he is eventually refunded for this work.

In fact, if ACF is setting these costs to be penalties rather than to compensate editors (which I suspect it is), then the actual cost of correcting these errors is probably quite small. In this case, the ACF editors should celebrate when a malformatted packet comes in, as they are making a windfall.

On the other side, ACF gives teams the option to format their packet in whatever way they wish for an extra $15. This is about $3.75 per writer. This is about what I spend on Diet Coke in one day during finals week. A team of writers may very well decide that they would rather give up one day of soda than root through their questions and correct minor errors that they make by force of habit (or because they are used to writing to some old standard that has since been replaced). Or they may instead invest that time in something that earns them more than $3.75.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:17 pm

Whig's Boson wrote:Apparently, the cost to ACF of correcting these formatting errors is only $15 divided by the number of ACF editors on any given tournament. For instance, ACF Fall has 5 or 6 editors this year, so each individual editor incurs $2.50 in costs per malformatted packet. And, of course, he is eventually refunded for this work.

In fact, if ACF is setting these costs to be penalties rather than to compensate editors (which I suspect it is), then the actual cost of correcting these errors is probably quite small.

On the other side, ACF gives teams the option to format their packet in whatever way they wish for an extra $15. This is about $3.75 per writer. This is about what I spend on Diet Coke in one day during finals week. A team of writers may very well decide that they would rather give up one day of soda than root through their questions and correct minor errors that they make by force of habit (or because they are used to writing to some old standard that has since been replaced). Or they may instead invest that time in something that earns them more than $3.75.
It takes about an hour to break a habit this simple and non-essential forever, or else I wouldn't use correct formatting every time now. Also, this is just an argument for ACF to raise penalties. And, well, clubs, not individuals who use nonstandard format, take the monetary penalty. So this would actually just result in me correcting your weird formatting. I don't really want that.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:19 pm

It kind of surprises me how many of these errors are direct application of the NAQT style guide. Most of these things don't really carry meaning (I don't wish to have an argument about whether brackets or parentheses make for better quizbowl), but this case is kind of interesting:
theMoMA wrote:Those are the only correct formats. It is never correct to say "For 10 points each," or "For 10 points each;" and I'm really sick of seeing it.
NAQT's style guide is precisely the opposite:
NAQT style guide wrote:In most cases, the phrase "For 10 points each--" (or its analogue) should appear at the beginning of a bonus introduction rather than at the end; this is to give teams slightly longer to quiet down after a tossup and make it less likely that they will miss important facts.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:21 pm

Norman the Lunatic wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:Apparently, the cost to ACF of correcting these formatting errors is only $15 divided by the number of ACF editors on any given tournament. For instance, ACF Fall has 5 or 6 editors this year, so each individual editor incurs $2.50 in costs per malformatted packet. And, of course, he is eventually refunded for this work.

In fact, if ACF is setting these costs to be penalties rather than to compensate editors (which I suspect it is), then the actual cost of correcting these errors is probably quite small.

On the other side, ACF gives teams the option to format their packet in whatever way they wish for an extra $15. This is about $3.75 per writer. This is about what I spend on Diet Coke in one day during finals week. A team of writers may very well decide that they would rather give up one day of soda than root through their questions and correct minor errors that they make by force of habit (or because they are used to writing to some old standard that has since been replaced). Or they may instead invest that time in something that earns them more than $3.75.
It takes about an hour to break a habit this simple and non-essential forever, or else I wouldn't use correct formatting every time now. Also, this is just an argument for ACF to raise penalties. And, well, clubs, not individuals who use nonstandard format, take the monetary penalty. So this would actually just result in me correcting your weird formatting. I don't really want that.
It's an argument for editors to set penalties at the price that they feel would compensate them for correcting formatting errors. And clubs could simply make the people responsible for penalties pay those penalties. This is what Chicago does, or at least what it did when I was there. If Jared made the packet late, Jared had to pay Seth Teitler $25 or whatever.

(In reality, Jared eventually incurred so many late penalties that the team bailed him out as a graduation present, but that is neither here nor there)
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:24 pm

Harvard club law: now set. HCB will now only fund the earliest fee price of a tournament.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:25 pm

Long story short: ACF penalties can basically be viewed as options to engage in certain behavior (for $25, you can buy the right to spend 2 weeks doing stuff other than writing packets, for $15 you can buy the right to not follow proper formatting, etc.). If people believe that they could spend their time more efficiently by incurring those penalties (for instance, if they can write 2 HSAPQ bonuses for $4 in the time that it would take them to correct the packet), then they probably will or even should.

Andrew is basically complaining about people following an incentive structure that he set up, or that he at least has the power to change. I find this to be poor form.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:28 pm

Bruce wrote:BLAH BLAH BLAH
Seriously, just take a minute and make sure you're writing in accordance with the ACF style guide. Everyone will be happy and no one will be making angry posts. About this, anyway.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:30 pm

I don't get it. If you start your Fall packet two weeks earlier, then you make an earlier deadline. And then, since you started that packet two weeks earlier, you can start the next one two weeks earlier. There is an initial investment of a little bit of extra time (and that's only if the first time you sit down and decide "this time it won't be late" actually rubs up against another packet-writing adventure, then you do actually have to do more work for a period of time) and it pays a $25 dividend every goddamn time you write a packet.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Auroni » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:33 pm

Norman the Lunatic wrote:I don't get it. If you start your Fall packet two weeks earlier, then you make an earlier deadline. And then, since you started that packet two weeks earlier, you can start the next one two weeks earlier. There is an initial investment of a little bit of extra time (and that's only if the first time you sit down and decide "this time it won't be late" actually rubs up against another packet-writing adventure, then you do actually have to do more work for a period of time) and it pays a $25 dividend every goddamn time you write a packet.
Yeah, but that's purely ideal. How many people are going to use that corridor of time to start on another packet, rather than spend it another way? I think that more realistically, they're back to the equilibrium position, for packet writing anyway.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:41 pm

It is NEVER "for ten points" or "FTP" or "F10P
When did this become QB law, exactly? I'm not complaining, necessarily, and I strive to meet whatever formatting recommendations editors suggest when writing for summer tournaments, but I prefer to use "FTP" and "FTPE" when writing Delta Burke. Why is "for 10 points" intrinsically better?

Again, to be clear, I'm perfectly happy to use the format stated above if/when I write a MUT packet this spring or whatever else, but I've just never heard anyone explain what's better for readers about the typing above--after all, it IS only for readers, as players will hear the same thing regardless, and "FTP" is a tad quicker to type.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:46 pm

Whig's Boson wrote:Long story short: ACF penalties can basically be viewed as options to engage in certain behavior (for $25, you can buy the right to spend 2 weeks doing stuff other than writing packets, for $15 you can buy the right to not follow proper formatting, etc.). If people believe that they could spend their time more efficiently by incurring those penalties (for instance, if they can write 2 HSAPQ bonuses for $4 in the time that it would take them to correct the packet), then they probably will or even should.

Andrew is basically complaining about people following an incentive structure that he set up, or that he at least has the power to change. I find this to be poor form.
Clearly monetary incentive doesn't explain why people do what they do in quizbowl. If I wanted to make money, I wouldn't be spending hundreds of hours editing a quizbowl tournament for my cut of a few hundred bucks in mirror fees. Quizbowl currency is prestige, and suffice to say that my estimation of anyone's prestige goes down when they submit a packet full of lackluster questions with lazy formatting errors, regardless of how many pennies they pinched in the process.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:46 pm

Glacier wrote:
Norman the Lunatic wrote:I don't get it. If you start your Fall packet two weeks earlier, then you make an earlier deadline. And then, since you started that packet two weeks earlier, you can start the next one two weeks earlier. There is an initial investment of a little bit of extra time (and that's only if the first time you sit down and decide "this time it won't be late" actually rubs up against another packet-writing adventure, then you do actually have to do more work for a period of time) and it pays a $25 dividend every goddamn time you write a packet.
Yeah, but that's purely ideal. How many people are going to use that corridor of time to start on another packet, rather than spend it another way? I think that more realistically, they're back to the equilibrium position, for packet writing anyway.
No, see, but it's not using any more time. It's using the exact same amount of time. You are using no more time when you do your packet early. You are spending the same amount of time. It is the time that you take to write a tossup, plus the time that you take to write a bonus, times twenty-four. Divided by the number of people on your team, I guess. You are either using that time from (for example) September 5-19 or from October 10-24. That new "corridor of time" either occurs immediately following the 19th or the 24th.

There is simply no incentive to continually turning packets in late, considering that it saves you zero seconds of time.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:51 pm

Let's stop getting sidetracked by this economic argument. By writing this, I'm making sure everyone knows there are other costs incurred than packet penalties when you write lazy questions. There should really be no argument to this; just do it, because it takes you zero extra time to get it right once you have the standards down, and it takes the editors a lot of the time they invest in good faith to producing great tournaments to fix if you don't.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Kouign Amann » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:53 pm

theMoMA wrote:Prompts are underlined, not in quotes. Do not accepts are in quotes, not underlined.
I don't think I saw these two explicitly codified in the regulations; it may be something to consider revising for the benefit of people who are new to packet-sub. If I let a mistake like this slip through, I'm sorry.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:53 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Why is "for 10 points" intrinsically better?
Probably for reader clarity. A reader who has never seen "FTP" before might not know what it stands for; I imagine "for 10 points" is probably the clearest way of stating what you want them to say.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:54 pm

theMoMA wrote:Let's stop getting sidetracked by this economic argument. By writing this, I'm making sure everyone knows there are other costs incurred than packet penalties when you write lazy questions. There should really be no argument to this; just do it, because it takes you zero extra time to get it right once you have the standards down.
Yeah, this is correct. This is quite similar to the "write your goddamn tournaments on time" theme, which is also inarguable.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:17 pm

I'm usually a formatting Nazi but it's impossible even for me to get excited about the distinction between "For ten points" and "For 10 points." In fact, I always use the former style and I can't think of why anyone should care whether it's written this way or not. Also, the distinction between "ANSWER" and "Answer" escapes me; I've never found it to be particularly necessary to do this and I don't know why it's in the style guide. Andrew makes a lot of other good points, but these two I don't think are particularly meaningful.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by fleurdelivre » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:44 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I'm usually a formatting Nazi but it's impossible even for me to get excited about the distinction between "For ten points" and "For 10 points." In fact, I always use the former style and I can't think of why anyone should care whether it's written this way or not. Also, the distinction between "ANSWER" and "Answer" escapes me; I've never found it to be particularly necessary to do this and I don't know why it's in the style guide. Andrew makes a lot of other good points, but these two I don't think are particularly meaningful.
Amen. I was about to make a variant on this post - I'm as much a grammarian as anyone, and I certainly appreciate the aesthetic value of consistent formatting from round to round, but when we still have issues with basic grammar, phrasing, antecedents and the like in many tournaments, this kind of fluff is ridiculous to penalize. Maybe submissions have gotten enough better about the basics that we can focus energy on making "for 10 points" standard (and it's true I've seen fewer readability issues in the past year than the year before), but there's a fine line between practical issues and the icing on the cake. I think we've reached it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:48 pm

There is no meaning in most standards, but the point is to have a standard. The argument that "I'm going to do it some arbitrary way because I feel like it" completely subverts the purpose of having a standard, which is to make formatting consistent so that editors don't have to worry about it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:52 pm

theMoMA wrote:There is no meaning in most standards, but the point is to have a standard. The argument that "I'm going to do it some arbitrary way because I feel like it" completely subverts the purpose of having a standard, which is to make formatting consistent so that editors don't have to worry about it.
Institutions exist to serve people, not the other way around. If a standard exists for the purpose of making human tasks easier, that's one thing; if it exists because someone claims it exists, that's just pointless. You don't need to worry about whether the line says "For ten points" or "For 10 points," you really don't. No one will think less of you.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:52 pm

I don't think people understand the huge role that "packets that look like crap" play in negatively influencing the perception of good quizbowl among teams who have not previously been exposed to it. Having consistent style is in the same realm as having correct spelling, phrasing questions in a way that makes sense, and so on. It directly influences the rate at which good quizbowl expands at the collegiate level, and especially at the high school level.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:54 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
theMoMA wrote:There is no meaning in most standards, but the point is to have a standard. The argument that "I'm going to do it some arbitrary way because I feel like it" completely subverts the purpose of having a standard, which is to make formatting consistent so that editors don't have to worry about it.
Institutions exist to serve people, not the other way around. If a standard exists for the purpose of making human tasks easier, that's one thing; if it exists because someone claims it exists, that's just pointless. You don't need to worry about whether the line says "For ten points" or "For 10 points," you really don't. No one will think less of you.
There is no good reason to write "For ten points" when the standard is "For 10 points." And there is a good reason not to.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:57 pm

theMoMA wrote:There is no good reason to write "For ten points" when the standard is "For 10 points." And there is a good reason not to.
So make the standard flexible so that people can write either one. We're not chained to this formalism.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:59 pm

Why? What is the possible benefit of being able to write "ten" instead of "10"? Just pick one and always do it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:03 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I don't think people understand the huge role that "packets that look like crap" play in negatively influencing the perception of good quizbowl among teams who have not previously been exposed to it. Having consistent style is in the same realm as having correct spelling, phrasing questions in a way that makes sense, and so on. It directly influences the rate at which good quizbowl expands at the collegiate level, and especially at the high school level.
Yeah, this is absolutely true. Here's an example: there are high school coaches who are high school teachers, even English teachers. There were English teachers at my middle school (and therefore, probably at other middle schools and high schools) who would take off points for formatting and grammar errors. (Now, their idea of an error might have been nonsense, but that's beside the point.) Packets that don't look pretty are uglier to them than apyramidal tossups are to us. It'd be great if every coach correctly prioritized quizbowl aesthetics over aesthetics, but that's not going to happen and until it does (i.e. forever) we will have to make sets that look good for them.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:05 pm

theMoMA wrote:Why? What is the possible benefit of being able to write "ten" instead of "10"? Just pick one and always do it.
Who cares? Why are you so determined to limit people's options in a situation where it really doesn't matter? I personally like to write "ten" instead of "10" because I think questions should be written in the way that they're going to be read and I find words more aesthetically pleasing than numbers. Why this should matter to you, or to ACF, or to anyone at all is absolutely beyond me. I'm, like, the foremost proponent of strict packet formatting, and I can't see any possible reason to get all upset about someone's use of a word instead of the corresponding number. You're just picking nits and it's pointless.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:06 pm

Norman the Lunatic wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I don't think people understand the huge role that "packets that look like crap" play in negatively influencing the perception of good quizbowl among teams who have not previously been exposed to it. Having consistent style is in the same realm as having correct spelling, phrasing questions in a way that makes sense, and so on. It directly influences the rate at which good quizbowl expands at the collegiate level, and especially at the high school level.
Yeah, this is absolutely true. Here's an example: there are high school coaches who are high school teachers, even English teachers. There were English teachers at my middle school (and therefore, probably at other middle schools and high schools) who would take off points for formatting and grammar errors. (Now, their idea of an error might have been nonsense, but that's beside the point.) Packets that don't look pretty are uglier to them than apyramidal tossups are to us. It'd be great if every coach correctly prioritized quizbowl aesthetics over aesthetics, but that's not going to happen and until it does (i.e. forever) we will have to make sets that look good for them.
That means: write questions in a grammatical fashion. It doesn't mean "all must submit to the 'For 10 points' convention."
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:07 pm

Stop writing your questions not like everyone else for arbitrary reasons, then blaming the rest of the world when they get angry about fixing it, or for having the audacity to create rules in the first place.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:08 pm

Because if things change from question to question or packet to packet, the set looks like shit, and we don't want our sets to look like shit. Therefore, we need to define and enforce a standard. Whether the standard is "for 10 points" or "for ten points" is immaterial; the former one was the one that was arbitrarily chosen, so that's the one we are going with. I don't see how people can possibly not get how important this actually is, but perhaps I'm laboring under the influence of correcting a million high school questions lately.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:12 pm

I'm up in a haze of medicine for this stupid cold and even I, in my drug addled state, can tell the world it's a good thing to format packets one way.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:15 pm

To switch sides in the argument, I was once told that certain editors prefer "For 10 points" to "For ten points" because the scripts they use to randomize packets searches for the phrase "for 10 points" in order to determine what text is a tossup. This might also explain why they want "ANSWER" rather than "Answer".
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:16 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Because if things change from question to question or packet to packet, the set looks like shit, and we don't want our sets to look like shit. Therefore, we need to define and enforce a standard. Whether the standard is "for 10 points" or "for ten points" is immaterial; the former one was the one that was arbitrarily chosen, so that's the one we are going with. I don't see how people can possibly not get how important this actually is, but perhaps I'm laboring under the influence of correcting a million high school questions lately.
Because it's not important and no one cares except you and some retarded high school coach that no one is going to convince to do anything rational anyway.
Stop writing your questions not like everyone else for arbitrary reasons, then blaming the rest of the world when they get angry about fixing it, or for having the audacity to create rules in the first place. Stop writing your questions not like everyone else for arbitrary reasons, then blaming the rest of the world when they get angry about fixing it, or for having the audacity to create rules in the first place.
Perhaps you could rewrite that as "stop doing inconsequential things that piss me off for no apparent reason." Plenty of people have slight variations in how they word that part of the tossup. So, who cares? Stop being anal about it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:33 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Because it's not important and no one cares except you and some retarded high school coach that no one is going to convince to do anything rational anyway.
I mean, I hate high school coaches too, but I will try to win people over however I can.

EDIT: apparently my sarcasm is sometimes unclear. I don't hate high school coaches!
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by jonpin » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:39 pm

Just as a comment, given that nearly all bonuses now consist of 10-10-10, why do bonus points begin with [10]? Is this to preserve the opportunity for 5-5-10-10 or (10+10)-10 bonuses and/or to permit easy database reading?
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:18 am

jonpin wrote:Just as a comment, given that nearly all bonuses now consist of 10-10-10, why do bonus points begin with [10]? Is this to preserve the opportunity for 5-5-10-10 or (10+10)-10 bonuses and/or to permit easy database reading?
It's a convention that was adopted early on for designating the right amount of points. In theory, someone might want to write a 5-5-10-10 bonus or something, so I guess the possiblity exists. More importantly, something like [10] will never occur in the text of a question, whereas something like "A." will occur quite a lot, so it's a useful convention to have for automate packet imports.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by bsmith » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:16 am

I presented the "ten"/"10" debate to my girlfriend, who translates government documents for a living and has The Canadian Style as the main book on her desk. The choice of "ten" or "10" depends on what you want the primary purpose of a quizbowl packet to be.

For most written reports, technical documents, etc, numbers greater than nine are written as numerals. This helps keep the text concise: "twenty-seven" takes up more space than "27". This reduced space is easier for reading in your head. If you think the primary purpose of packets is their eventual long-term use as archives or practice material, you should use "10".

For text intended to be read aloud (speeches, teleprompter scripts, etc.), writing out numbers that can be formed from one or two words ("twelve", "thirty-three", "two million") is easier for a reader to smoothly and quickly speak the text. If you think the primary purpose of packets is to be read aloud in their one-time use at tournaments, you should use "ten".

There is an argument for either format, and I'm accepting of either.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:26 am

While I am still pretty sure that the choice was made on essentially a coinflip basis to begin with, I think the way the current ACF guidelines handle numerals is, by fortuitous coincidence, very utilitarian: "10" is only used when it indicates a point value, and is written as "ten" in any other situation. This nicely facilitates searching, automatic formatting, and other purposes.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:46 am

Let me state my belief that fretting about standardizing minute formatting rules is useless. I'm a bit anal about packets, and just by sheer rote, I've developed a formatting scheme that I always use (I use FTP, but I can see the argument that it's better not to as some may not know what it means - although it saves space, and it can't take even the densest person too long to deduce what FTP means). Whenever I edit questions, I automatically change the format to the one I want while I'm in the process of editing and it takes very little time...you have to read over each question anyway, and I highly recommend making sure the sentence structure in each tu is reasonable too, so it's not hard to just chop through and fix a few formatting things.

But, really, if quality of product is your end goal - there are a ton of things I'd rather see people worry about than formatting conventions. Let's proofread those packets, cause I can't remember more than a handful of tournaments ever that weren't plagued by either several typographical mistakes, tortured and/or ungrammatical and/or just suboptimal-for-reading sentence construction, or some combination of those things. Also, browse back over the bonuses in your tournaments to make sure they are as uniform-difficulty as possible - specifically, that there are not bonuses that seem to fluctuate by more than 10 points on either side of the hard-easy scale relative to the tourney's difficulty.

These things are way more relevant to the production of a pretty tournament than rules and conventions, and I wholly endorse the propagation of the message "we aren't about fancy corporate-style policies and regulations, we're just about producing the best qb you can find."
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:00 am

Having a set of formatting standards that are followed by an organization helps that organization look professional. Ergo, even the smaller ones like ANSWER/Answer and For ten/For 10 help keep questions produced by that organization looking professional. This is why it's a good thing.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by setht » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:41 am

FredMorlan wrote:Having a set of formatting standards that are followed by an organization helps that organization look professional. Ergo, even the smaller ones like ANSWER/Answer and For ten/For 10 help keep questions produced by that organization looking professional. This is why it's a good thing.
This is fine for organizations that have some need to look professional--I personally don't enjoy dealing with all the formatting conventions required by NAQT or ACF but I can see some value to adhering to them. However, it appears that Andrew's initial post was prompted by frustration with submissions to Minnesota Open, an event that I would imagine has zero chance of attracting any team that should be there but cares enough about polished packet appearance to skip the event if some bonus prompts end with periods instead of colons. For circuit events like MO, I think there are some minimal formatting conventions that people should be expected to follow, and past that I think writers and editors should spend their time and energy working on other things. If the MO set has factual errors, wildly uneven bonuses, or badly garbled sentences, I'm going to complain and I imagine much of the rest of the field will as well; as a player and as a reader I really don't care if the MO set (or any other) has some alternate answers in brackets and others in parentheses.

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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:26 pm

FredMorlan wrote:Having a set of formatting standards that are followed by an organization helps that organization look professional. Ergo, even the smaller ones like ANSWER/Answer and For ten/For 10 help keep questions produced by that organization looking professional. This is why it's a good thing.
This presumes that "looking professional" is a primary goal of the organization in question. It is not in fact at all clear that this should be the case, however fervently some people may be asserting it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:40 pm

I frankly don't see why people on either side are complaining so vigorously about the FTP/F10P and ANSWER/Answer crap from either the writer or editor standpoint. You know how you fix this on either end of the equation? The replace function in Word. It takes about three minutes, and you're done with it.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by cvdwightw » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:43 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
FredMorlan wrote:Having a set of formatting standards that are followed by an organization helps that organization look professional. Ergo, even the smaller ones like ANSWER/Answer and For ten/For 10 help keep questions produced by that organization looking professional. This is why it's a good thing.
This presumes that "looking professional" is a primary goal of the organization in question. It is not in fact at all clear that this should be the case, however fervently some people may be asserting it.
Jerry, you do acknowledge that at least two major quizbowl organizations (NAQT and HSAPQ) interact on a daily or near-daily basis with high school coaches that value "looking professional"? Now, it's great that you don't care about these things, since to the best of my knowledge you write for neither organization, but I think it suffices to say that a successful business model for any company dealing with obstinate high school coaches must necessarily include "looking professional," and that is in fact what NAQT and HSAPQ attempt to emulate. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the far greater success in "looking professional" is what gives noted bad question providers Avery Enterprises, Questions Unlimited, and the College Bowl Company the appearance of being good question providers.

It is clear to me that the people coming out in favor of these minor formatting issues have significant experience writing and editing to the high school level, where they have to appeal to these people that judge them based on how the packets look and not how they play (that is, people who do not subscribe to Morlan's Law of Quizbowl Writing); people coming out against formatting issues have little to no experience (at least to my knowledge) writing to that level and since no consumer at the mainstream college level cares about such a thing, they feel they have a right to format their packets however they want.

Andrew is concerned because apparently people who submitted questions to Minnesota Open blatantly disregarded the formatting requests because either they felt that their style was superior and/or they had the right to do whatever they wanted, or they couldn't be bothered to look over the original announcement. For those of you who didn't read the original announcement, it says: "Formatting requirements: Please use the standard ACF style. Ten point, times new roman font with 1-inch margins. If you want to submit packets in Calibri, that's fine too. Please lump together all questions of a certain part of the distribution, preceded with "5/5 Literature" or whatever the heading may be."

Matt is concerned because he's spent countless hours formatting HSAPQ questions by people who blatantly disregard the HSAPQ Style Guide; actions by those people have the potential to directly damage the financial viability of HSAPQ as high school coaches refrain from taking their teams to tournaments using HSAPQ sets or refuse to order HSAPQ sets due to "professionalism" issues.

Again, it's great that you don't care about these things, but some people in the community do. Questions and packets that are improperly formatted are a slap in the face to the tournament editors; if they did not care how the packets looked they would not have specified it ("Please use the standard ACF style"). Why is it any more okay to ignore this portion of the announcement than the "Target Length" or "Target Difficulty" portions?
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:13 pm

It's more okay to have minor formatting deviations than to have outside-guidelines difficulty or length because the formatting, even in the final product, is transparent to the players as long as it's intelligible to the readers (and they're not going to complain about minor, intelligible-to-them deviations which, if they are, is a problem with the readers, frankly) and the game is about and for the players, so consequently the time required by editors to fix such non-uniformity is no time at all: they can just leave it. The same argument does not hold for other required aspects; the final length and difficulty, for example, are apparent and important to players, so questions that fall outside bounds for those require editors' time to fix (or have negative effects on the tournament if not fixed, assuming the players' likes and expectations match the guidelines.)

As someone who has written and edited fairly extensively for just about all levels, I understand fully the desire to have uniform formatting within a tournament at any level and, in fact, agree with it. I further understand and agree with the sentiment that it's important that documents look clean and professional in certain cases. I profoundly don't understand or agree with the extent to which formatting uniformity is being stressed and hand-wrung over for Minnesota Open, where I'd hope the editors have other priorities. That hope is predicated on the fact that I can't imagine a plausible scenario in which any player of Minnesota Open wouldn't gladly trade the worst possible intelligible-to-readers formatting non-uniformity for the improvement of the content of even a single question. I'll apply the caveat that, if this emphasis springs from formatting issues diminishing the machine readability of packets and, in turn, hindering editing, as some are seemingly conjecturing, I understand that and hope that the requirement for formatting conformity will be stressed more in future announcements, perhaps to the point of returning improperly formatted packets.

Incidentally, as has been touched on, part of the reason that people write using formatting other than Minnesota Open's is that there are/were tournaments that demand/demanded such formatting. In fact, it's rather a contradiction on its face that Minnesota Open itself uses a sui generis formatting that is not, in fact, the same as ACF's (given, in minor ways like the labeling/numbering of subjects and acceptability of fonts) but at the same time has at least one editor who doesn't understand how anyone could fail to write in Minnesota Open's exact format.

In short: writers certainly ought to follow formatting guidelines and I hope that they will. I know I did in my part of my team's submission for this tournament and I try to do so for every other submission that I write. That said, editors ought to give the proper priority to formatting uniformity which, at this level, is the lowest priority. The existence of this thread, especially at this time, reflects a different prioritization.

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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:39 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Jerry, you do acknowledge that at least two major quizbowl organizations (NAQT and HSAPQ) interact on a daily or near-daily basis with high school coaches that value "looking professional"? Now, it's great that you don't care about these things, since to the best of my knowledge you write for neither organization, but I think it suffices to say that a successful business model for any company dealing with obstinate high school coaches must necessarily include "looking professional," and that is in fact what NAQT and HSAPQ attempt to emulate. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the far greater success in "looking professional" is what gives noted bad question providers Avery Enterprises, Questions Unlimited, and the College Bowl Company the appearance of being good question providers.
The extent of my involvement with either organization is writing questions. I don't care what HSAPQ or NAQT chooses to as far as their interactions with high school coaches are concerned; I don't interact with high school coaches unless they come to collegiate tournaments, in which case I expect them to be fully informed about what the collegiate game entails. I don't care what high school coaches think of ACF because they are not ACF's primary audience and if we are seriously encountering people who say "I will not go to tournament X because of slightly divergent formatting," then I submit that those people are petulant children and I don't want them at any tournament I'm at anyway.
It is clear to me that the people coming out in favor of these minor formatting issues have significant experience writing and editing to the high school level, where they have to appeal to these people that judge them based on how the packets look and not how they play (that is, people who do not subscribe to Morlan's Law of Quizbowl Writing); people coming out against formatting issues have little to no experience (at least to my knowledge) writing to that level and since no consumer at the mainstream college level cares about such a thing, they feel they have a right to format their packets however they want.
So what? I have plenty of experience writing and editing at the college level; surely this fact is not in dispute. Another fact that I'm sure is not in dispute is that I was one of the original organizers of a push towards standard packet formatting. What I am saying is that getting on people's case because they enclosed an alternate answer in parentheses rather than square brackets or because they typed "ten" instead of "10" or "Answer" instead of "ANSWER" is dumber than dumb. It's not something that even remotely affects how the packets are read or parsed, so the question is, for whose benefit is this nonsense? For the benefit of some invented standard of professionalism? For the benefit of hypothetical high school coaches? It sure isn't for the benefit of the players or readers, so I don't see why such a level of outrage is being expended on this entirely insignificant variation.
Andrew is concerned because apparently people who submitted questions to Minnesota Open blatantly disregarded the formatting requests because either they felt that their style was superior and/or they had the right to do whatever they wanted, or they couldn't be bothered to look over the original announcement. For those of you who didn't read the original announcement, it says: "Formatting requirements: Please use the standard ACF style. Ten point, times new roman font with 1-inch margins. If you want to submit packets in Calibri, that's fine too. Please lump together all questions of a certain part of the distribution, preceded with "5/5 Literature" or whatever the heading may be."
Any suggestion that I "blatantly" disregarded the formatting requests is preposterous. I deviated from the apparently sacrosanct formulation in a few minor details that cannot possibly affect anything about the quality of the tournament or the ease of compiling packets. In fact, had someone asked me after submitting the packet whether I can change the formatting, I would have done so in a heartbeat. The only reason that I wrote things the way I did was because things like "ten" are easier to type than "10" when fingers are flying; likewise for parentheses vs. square brackets, they're just easier to type.
Matt is concerned because he's spent countless hours formatting HSAPQ questions by people who blatantly disregard the HSAPQ Style Guide; actions by those people have the potential to directly damage the financial viability of HSAPQ as high school coaches refrain from taking their teams to tournaments using HSAPQ sets or refuse to order HSAPQ sets due to "professionalism" issues.
This isn't about HSAPQ.
Again, it's great that you don't care about these things, but some people in the community do. Questions and packets that are improperly formatted are a slap in the face to the tournament editors; if they did not care how the packets looked they would not have specified it ("Please use the standard ACF style"). Why is it any more okay to ignore this portion of the announcement than the "Target Length" or "Target Difficulty" portions?
"Some people in the community" are overly bureaucratic and micro-managing with respect to entirely irrelevant formatting issues that cannot possibly make any effective difference with regard to either readability, gameplay, or parsing. Perhaps "some people in the community," should stop getting on the cases of other people in the community about inconsequential things and worry more about stuff that's actually relevant to writing and running a good tournament.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:09 pm

And, it strikes me that this whole theory - that increased professionalism or standardization or whatever will appeal to certain backwater folks, who will then buy into ACF or MACF or whatever, and then finally eventually they'll see that it's really good quizbowl and that's what matters - is a little too similar to the "stepping stone" theory for me.

A lot of people evidently believe that if we can lure people into our net through "trickery" or "putting on airs" or "giving them candy" or whatever - then eventually we'll be able to win over their hearts and minds and they'll see that our way of doing things is the best, or at least they'll bring along people who will see that and who will be an asset to us.

I continue to be skeptical of this theory - I have no problem with being generally accommodating within the framework of what we do, and I have no doubt that such behavior might bear fruit down the road. But, I'm just not a fan of the whole program of trying to win people over through ruses and appeasement.

Also, Sorice does a very good job of pointing out that - in most cases, your lowest priority in working on any tourney should be stuff that is "transparent to the player," i.e. stuff that doesn't affect the playing experience.

And anyway, like I said, I don't think it takes much time or effort at all for an editor to just format the tourney as he wants it (if that is important to him) - unless people are doing crazy stuff like inserting 1.5 line spaces and working in wingdings, but that's hardly ever the case.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:15 pm

On the transparency note, here's a good example.

Sometimes, when I write tossups, I deliberately word things in a way that I know is not precisely correct in terms of grammar - or I'll create something that I know isn't a proper sentence, etc.

But, if I think it will read better or play better during a match, I don't care...that's my goal, after all. Now, that might make a packet look less "polished" and "professional" to an observer who reads it after the fact, but surely the playing experience is more important.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by Wall of Ham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:35 pm

I support the idea of flexibility for formatting, especially since it doesn't affect gameplay.

However, certain tournaments (NAQT and ACF) have a certain formatting criterion. In the end, the packet WILL be formatted to the editor's ideals. So I think it's best to help out the editor in trying to format your questions properly, as in the end, it will be done by somebody, either you or the editor.


However, this shouldn't be that big an issue. I think most tournaments, especially independent question sets that comprise most of the circuit, should be flexible in formatting issues, keeping only big details like font and size the same.

It's probably better for people to do a last minute check on the grammar and spelling in their questions, than worry about spaces between the [10] and the bonus clue for the $5 formatting penalty.
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Re: Attention must be paid

Post by theMoMA » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:51 pm

I'm having a really hard time with this whole sequence of rhetoric from Jerry in which he's saying it's okay for him to ignore something that we wrote in our tournament announcement for...absolutely no benefit whatsoever? Look, we're going to format our packets regularly based on the ACF standard, in addition to fixing grammar and typos, making the sentences readable, and generally tearing down and rebuilding the majority of tossups that are submitted. Receiving packets that require extensive formatting work is enough of an annoyance; but you're basically telling me you're purposefully breaking the rules that we set out, and not even for any good reason. Huh?
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