ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by ieppler » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:34 pm

While we're piling on the Jew questions, I'll mention one other clue that wasn't too great.
Packet by Brandeis and UCLA A wrote: tashlikh, or recitation of prayer near flowing water.
This is factually correct, but not the best description of tashlikh. Tashlikh is better-known as a ritual in which participants throw pieces of bread or pocket lint into flowing water to symbolically cast off sins. In my experience with tashlikh (I'm a member of a relatively assimilated Conservative congregation, others may have different experience), the prayer component is secondary to the act. In general, "recitation of prayer" isn't the best clue for a question on a Jewish ritual; we have blessings for literally everything, encompassing both religious and secular events (my favorite: this one, to be recited "upon seeing especially strange-looking people or animals"), so stating that something is accompanied by prayer isn't necessarily helpful.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Ringil » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:38 pm

Journey to the Planets wrote:
Steamboats of the Yukon River wrote:
Ringil wrote:Also, one packet seemed to have heavy amounts of 30 Year's War stuff as in having a tossup on Peace of Westphalia and a bonus on the Dutch revolution that merged into the 30 Year's War.
Yes, and the bonus mentioned the Peace of Westphalia. If I recall correctly, the bonus followed the tossup in my room (they were both number nine at any rate).
That was a result of our packet (with the tossup on Westphalia) being merged with Truman State's packet (with the bonus on the 30 Year's War.)
fluffy4102 wrote:
Ringil wrote: In general, I felt for many packets, the history was not distributed in regards to time period. Besides the packet with the tossup/bonus on stuff related to the 30 Year's War, another packet had a tossups on Winter War and Casablanca Conference. That just doesn't seem to be very well distributed to me.
The Casablanca Conference was merged into our packet.
I guess this just goes to show that the editors probably need to be more careful when they merge packets to check that there is still variety in time period and stuff.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:53 pm

Ringil wrote: I agree with this. My team said metalloid instead of semiconductor and didn't get that right :sad:
Well, gallium arsenide is a (compound) semiconductor so metalloid is incorrect. Additionally, "which have properties intermediate to those of conductors and insulators." is vague. It depends on what properties are being considered, what materials are being considered and what conditions the materials are being observed in. Temperature plays a big role as well as semiconductors can be insulators at ambient temperatures below kT_f.

I don't want to beat a point to death, but this bonus part was not a good description of semiconductors.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Louis XIV and Twenty Million Henchmen » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:00 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Unless I'm mistaken, this is a tournament that's trying to appeal teams like Penn State or North Carolina Wesleyan A, rather than Andy Watkins. Those teams were getting around 10 PPB. I don't think this is atrocious, but I do think this should be the lower limit for new teams at ACF Fall.
That answers my question about the bonus conversion, then, because I found it strange that the bonus conversion at MIT was skewed toward the higher end and wondered what it was like overall (I was one of the bottom teams at that site, so I was surprised that my bonus conversion was an otherwise-considered-good 17 or so). The problem is that if the bonuses are that easy, then there isn't much separating me from Andy Watkins and other elite players, although I would have thought that there should be.
jonah wrote:The fact that the haftarah for Chanukah is the Zechariah reading is definitely harder than any other clue in this question
I find this amusing because I also submitted a Hanukkah question, which led in by quoting "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion". :grin:
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:12 pm

Kaleido Star Legend of the Phoenix wrote:That answers my question about the bonus conversion, then, because I found it strange that the bonus conversion at MIT was skewed toward the higher end and wondered what it was like overall (I was one of the bottom teams at that site, so I was surprised that my bonus conversion was an otherwise-considered-good 17 or so). The problem is that if the bonuses are that easy, then there isn't much separating me from Andy Watkins and other elite players, although I would have thought that there should be.
What separates you from the Andy Watkins-type players is getting the hard parts.

Example: In the first game of the advantaged final at Chicago, both teams got 10 tossups, but Illinois A won by 50 (365-315). Illinois A negged once, Illinois B negged three times. Illinois A averaged 27 PPB, Illinois B 23. Once PPB reaches these levels, missing one or two parts here or there can make a huge difference.

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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:17 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I would like to come out against the sentiment that the bonuses in this set were too easy. Every other tournament on the college circuit has harder bonuses. ACF Fall does not need to be any harder than it currently is and I'd argue that it could probably stand to even be easier.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is a tournament that's trying to appeal teams like Penn State or North Carolina Wesleyan A, rather than Andy Watkins.
Hey, that's a statement that I notably never made! Man, I should have clarified that one twice. What I said was that, if you want the lowest bonus conversion to be ten, then fine, that's an okay deal, even though I feel as thoguh there's a point at which you do actually want there to be a difference between the bottom and second-to-bottom team: if you're really catering to those teams, as you ought to, then there should be a little spread between their bonus conversions. But yeah: again, i just didn't say that. I said that there were some bonuses that were too easy, and the fact that the bonus conversion distribution ended up pretty much fine indicates that there were some too-hard bonuses as well.
Maybe if the bonuses are too easy for you, this isn't the tournament for you?
I played exclusively to make the schedule be anything but terrible. This isn't the tournament for me, and I'm not claiming it is. I'm also not making claims about
1) the bonuses as a whole, at all, or
2) individual bonuses as they related to me personally, as that's totally irrelevant--rather, I imagine that a bonus with two parts "Allah" and "the hajj," to take an easy target, is actually too easy for the majority of the field.
Also, why is the ACF rule that teams must play 12 rounds? I can tell you from much experience in running tournaments at schools without a cadre of highly-trained moderators that a 12 round tournament where games start at 9:30 is going to take until at least 7 PM. This isn't 2004 anymore where tossups for many events rarely pushed 6 lines or bonus parts usually had short lead-ins. My main observation from reading at ACF Fall in Boise is that the newer players generally liked the tournament, but found the later rounds significantly less enjoyable, probably to the point of enjoying the tournament *less* because they played those rounds. Expecting new teams to be able to play quizbowl from 9:30 until even 5:00 or 6:00 I think is asking too much. It's the type of thing that makes marginal teams not want to come back ("quizbowl takes forever!"), and it's something I've personally seen happen on the college and high school level recently.
This is something that is generally persuasive to me.
Kaleido Star Legend of the Phoenix wrote:That answers my question about the bonus conversion, then, because I found it strange that the bonus conversion at MIT was skewed toward the higher end and wondered what it was like overall (I was one of the bottom teams at that site, so I was surprised that my bonus conversion was an otherwise-considered-good 17 or so).
Having a lot of undermanned teams playing separately gave this tournament an unusually high number of teams that could pick up the first two parts of a bonus a lot of the time.
Andy Watkins and other elite players
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:24 pm

Mike, the rule is 11. I have agreed though ever since last year's Missouri ACF Fall and Winter tournaments took for ages that we simply should not have these events that are designed to cater to low level teams be longer than 13 rounds (including byes), and if possible we should keep them closer to 11. Our ACF Fall yesterday had 11 guaranteed games in the space of 12 rounds, and even then we ran somewhat late and I could tell people were ready to be done. If we had 2 more games (not counting the 2nd place tiebreaker) I think we would have run the risk of teams deciding to skip out early (and we had a site where 7/9 teams had between a 10 minute walk and a 2 hour drive home). Illinois Novice last year ran 10 rounds, and I felt that was completely appropriate for an exclusively novice field.

Also, reading for our site, I can say for sure that anyone who might think any aspect of ACF Fall was too easy is kidding themselves (even if that is not you Andy, I'm sure there are others out there who think that). There may have been a lot of "name the country" easy parts, but just because there were a lot doesn't mean they weren't fine. If a bonus construct works, I am completely OK with it being used many times over the course of the day. I do think that one improvement to be made is having the pronoun be right at the beginning of the question, because I think for a tournament catering to low-level players, we should be doing everything to make it as clear as possible what to answer with (and at all levels I don't think that is a good way to write).

I am coming around more and more on the idea that we should produce another couple sets at this level than what is already being made. Even if there are areas of the country that barreled through this set without even having their most experienced players attend, there are many regions who, even without any eligibility restrictions, were able to play this set and have it produce completely valid results without much buzzer racing or upsets because the set was too easy, and which catered extremely well to the overall skill level of the field (like the one I read for yesterday). I think if we could make another set or 2 like this per year, in addition to all the novice sets already being made, this could really help good quizbowl's spread into regions with a lot of new players without compromising quality. These questions are miles better than high school questions, and in no way do I think they are too easy. As long as a circuit balances these kinds of sets with the "regular" events like Winter, Regionals, Sectionals, Penn Bowl, Terrapin, and a sprinkling of something harder here or there, I think we will be able to produce a great schedule of events for less active circuits that will both balance high quality editing, exposure to a range of difficulty appropriate sets, and chances to play well contested matches without running the risk of losing teams to IS sets or having them focus too much on the easy sets.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:33 pm

The MIT site started at 9:10, according to people who were there at the time, and ended a 13-round round-robin at 6:15. This is hardly crazy and unreasonable and directly contradicts the idea that 12 rounds take until 7.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:41 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I would like to come out against the sentiment that the bonuses in this set were too easy. Every other tournament on the college circuit has harder bonuses. ACF Fall does not need to be any harder than it currently is and I'd argue that it could probably stand to even be easier.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is a tournament that's trying to appeal teams like Penn State or North Carolina Wesleyan A, rather than Andy Watkins. Those teams were getting around 10 PPB. I don't think this is atrocious, but I do think this should be the lower limit for new teams at ACF Fall.
Mike is of course absolutely correct here. On a similar note, I'd like to call for a collective lack of sympathy to "this trash topic that I love had a leadin that I could buzz on!" complaints. People who know things are supposed to get tossups early.
Another comment: 17 packets were produced for this tournament. Is this really necessary? VCU, one of the more capable programs hosting ACF Fall, only got through 14 rounds and that went to 8 PM.
We had a 14-round regular schedule, used packet 15 for a finals game, had to pull questions from packet 17 to replace the double-pasted stuff, and had packet 16 on tap if the finals had gone to a game 2. We definitely needed all 17 rounds at VCU, and since I don't think the crazy things that made the tournament go until 8 PM* are likely to occur again in the future, I would probably make a 14-round schedule for this tournament again next year. We also had to break ties out of the prelims on PPG since we didn't have any extra packets besides the schedule, the finals, and the one that we could use for ties after the playoffs and ended up using for fill-ins. 18 packets would have been nice.

*I seem to recall that tournaments used to go this late all the time; perhaps the recent explosion of side events on Saturday night and trash tournaments on Sunday that you have to be on time for has had yet another negative impact on regular quizbowl, in that it makes people feel the need to hurry through the real tournament. I don't consider 8 PM to be that late, all things considered; only in comparison to VCU's usual efficiency does it stand out.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:45 pm

grapesmoker wrote:The MIT site started at 9:10, according to people who were there at the time, and ended a 13-round round-robin at 6:15. This is hardly crazy and unreasonable and directly contradicts the idea that 12 rounds take until 7.
Mike stipulated circuits with inexperienced moderators (and those circuits are the ones we are extra-special catering to here.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:46 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
Another comment: 17 packets were produced for this tournament. Is this really necessary? VCU, one of the more capable programs hosting ACF Fall, only got through 14 rounds and that went to 8 PM.
We had a 14-round regular schedule, used packet 15 for a finals game, had to pull questions from packet 17 to replace the double-pasted stuff, and had packet 16 on tap if the finals had gone to a game 2. We definitely needed all 17 rounds at VCU, and since I don't think the crazy things that made the tournament go until 8 PM* are likely to occur again in the future, I would probably make a 14-round schedule for this tournament again next year. We also had to break ties out of the prelims on PPG since we didn't have any extra packets besides the schedule, the finals, and the one that we could use for ties after the playoffs and ended up using for fill-ins. 18 packets would have been nice.

*I seem to recall that tournaments used to go this late all the time; perhaps the recent explosion of side events on Saturday night and trash tournaments on Sunday that you have to be on time for has had yet another negative impact on regular quizbowl, in that it makes people feel the need to hurry through the real tournament. I don't consider 8 PM to be that late, all things considered; only in comparison to VCU's usual efficiency does it stand out.
We had 26 teams and used 15 packets; we could have used 16 or 17 if results had come out a little differently, which could easily have happened. For a tournament with appeal as wide as Fall's, 17 packets is not unreasonable.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:46 pm

grapesmoker wrote:The MIT site started at 9:10, according to people who were there at the time, and ended a 13-round round-robin at 6:15. This is hardly crazy and unreasonable and directly contradicts the idea that 12 rounds take until 7.
Right, but MIT probably had the following things going for it that many tournaments (especially those in lesser developed regions) do not have going for them:
-Experienced moderators to read questions quickly and who make sure games start immediately when teams arrive in the rooms.
-Experienced players who know to go directly to their rooms and presumably come back from lunch on time.
-Experienced tournament directors who know not to do things like have lengthy meeting before starting a tournament or spend a long time rebracketing.
-Experienced clubs who have enough reliable staffers to all show up when they say they're going to show up so that you're not waiting for them or running a lot of rooms without scorekeepers.
-People getting there on time--starting 10 minutes after the posted start time is quite an accomplishment. I've been to very few tournaments where things have started this promptly.
-I'm just speculating, but I imagine that there are lunch options close enough to MIT to warrant a shorter than average lunch break. At many host sites, it's at least a 10 minute walk to lunch, meaning that you need to have a 1 hour lunch break--even then, you'll often get unlucky with teams coming back late from lunch meaning that in practice lunch breaks take 1.25 or even 1.5 hours.
-Teams not leaving early or doing other things to screw up the schedule and cause delays.
-Teams generally not traveling from long distances to get to the tournament. If a team has to drive 6+ hours to a tournament, chances are they're probably arriving late and staying at a hotel. In these cases, teams often get up late due to oversleeping or poor planning (forgetting that 4 people need to all shower in the room's one shower and then eat). This results in teams showing up late.

In summary, I'm not arguing that it's impossible to run 13 rounds or whatever and be done by 6:15 PM. I am arguing that, on average, it's going to take longer than this at other sites, as evidenced by, say, VCU or Boise State taking much longer than this to run a comparable number of rounds. Furthermore, it's been my experience that even 6:15 PM is a later end time than the average new quizbowl player has tolerance for.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:47 pm

I'm on Charlie's side re: producing more novice sets. I just don't know where they can go: we have a pretty full schedule as-is. Perhaps something even earlier than EFT could work, or between EFT and MO. Packet submission isn't really an option, then, though.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:53 pm

Jerry, MIT also had lots of highly experienced staffers sign up, along with some people from their club. We have to recognize that not everywhere has this resource at its disposal. At MU, because without having 2 of my teammates play solo we would have been forced into a 14 round schedule of some sort, we had me, Gordon, Jason Loy, and a local coach who has never read for college before. The laptop that I gave to Mrs. Cella was apparently extremely screwy, and the OpenOffice on it was not working right (apparently it kept scrolling to the top of the page no matter what), so we tried different things for the first 3 rounds until we came up with the solution that having me come by and open up 2 separate copies of the round in TextEdit she was able to get through the games more efficiently. This cost us at least an extra hour, and we already probably would have been running a little slow just because Mrs. Cella hadn't moderated college stuff before. I think our event ended up fine, but only because I chose to run 12 games instead of 14, because I realized that fewer games gave us a buffer in case our staff was slow or something else went wrong. If you are a club like Chicago that can confidently staff everything with utmost promptness, then I agree you can probably tack on a couple extra rounds to ACF Fall without anything happening, but I think most clubs out there in the quizbowl trenches need to recognize that there is a big potential for a schedule that is longer than 12 games to end up going poorly and schedule accordingly. If nothing goes wrong and you get out of the tournament by 4:30, then that's awesome, but I bet the ratio of tournaments that have gotten out early:tournaments that got out late is 1:something huge. I think we should expect to get out late, and work to make sure that our getting out late means it's still before dinner.

Also, I think the reality is that there are a lot of places that might not want to play those 13 rounds. Do I? Yes, of course. Do freshmen who played bad high school quizbowl only, or not at all, especially on Halloween, and who woke up early to drive in? Probably not. I don't think there is any crime in decreasing the number of games run at a tournament like ACF Fall (within reason) based on the presumed tastes of the audience. Like I said, Illinois novice ran 10 rounds last year, and I don't think anybody left feeling gypped.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:54 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I'm on Charlie's side re: producing more novice sets. I just don't know where they can go: we have a pretty full schedule as-is. Perhaps something even earlier than EFT could work, or between EFT and MO. Packet submission isn't really an option, then, though.
Alternatively, we can drop some of the harder events from the schedule.

For instance, this fall we have 2 events that appeal exclusively to elite teams--Minnesota Open and FIST. We also have 2 events that are targeted at "regular season" difficulty, which I've generally observed as being pretty difficult for new players--THUNDER and TIT/IO. If you look at the fields for these harder events (especially MO and FIST), they're attracting far fewer teams than ACF Fall and EFT, the two nationally-held tournaments targeted more explicitly towards novice players.

Another solution: move back at least one of the hard tournaments to December. The target audience for these tournaments is going to include a lot more people who aren't in school anymore or who are traveling on their own. That means that this group of people likely to attend these tournaments isn't going to be as affected by finals/not having senior members of their teams around to drive stuff because classes are over than your average first or second year player.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:57 pm

If some sites feel that offering fewer games is all they or their teams can handle, that's fine too. The 11 number is a suggestion in the game rules; not being an editor on this tournament, I don't know if anything was even told to hosts this year about minimum games. I'd still like to see around 18 packets produced for the benefit of those sites that do want to use them.
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You don't say.
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Alternatively, we can drop some of the harder events from the schedule.
We could stock a crazy number of good collegiate novice and high school tournaments with the work that good writers put into vanity projects each year, particularly side tournaments. I don't see any way to get people to stop directing their efforts to the wrong things, though. Quizbowl is pretty much laissez-faire, and no amount of either rational persuasion or social shaming has stopped people from doing stupid things in the past.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:57 pm

Steamboats of the Yukon River wrote:
Alejandro wrote:
ACF Fall Dunbar + UMN A wrote:[10] Linked lists are often used to implement this type of first-in first-out data structure that is often used in discrete event simulation. One of these is used in the A-star search algorithm to keep track of alternate paths.
ANSWER: _priority queue_
Priority queues cannot be implemented efficiently with linked lists, so they use trees. Regular queues are often implemented using linked lists, however.
Also, a priority queue isn't first-in-first-out. Whatever has the highest priority comes out first.
Hey, I wrote this; I'm sorry for leaving some rather important words out! I mean to say "this modification of an otherwise first-in-first-out data structure" so as to not, you know, be lying. As for the other part, perhaps I should've done more research; I definitely remember using linked lists to implement priority queues in our discrete event simulation project from CSCI1902.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:59 pm

I suppose I should clarify by saying that it seemed to me that some, but not necessarily most, bonuses had multiple easy parts. I could be making the "I know this, therefore it is easy" fallacy and perhaps also the "I can see these answers I know right next to me, therefore they are too easy" one.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:06 pm

Like I said, I think that is a very wrong assessment of the set.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:08 pm

Yeah, I agree with Charlie. ACF Fall should be easy. It is written for people with little or limited experience with quizbowl. A reasonably experienced player should probably get 20 points quite easily on most bonuses and should definitely have heard and have had some familiarity with almost all bonus parts. I would argue that actually the vast majority of people who even post on these boards are "reasonably experienced players," actually.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:10 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:We could stock a crazy number of good collegiate novice and high school tournaments with the work that good writers put into vanity projects each year, particularly side tournaments. I don't see any way to get people to stop directing their efforts to the wrong things, though. Quizbowl is pretty much laissez-faire, and no amount of either rational persuasion or social shaming has stopped people from doing stupid things in the past.
I think one element is that people like to improve by writing questions. And, well, while I can't say that I was happy with the difficulty of the HI science, there was a tossup on lectins, which allowed me to buzz very early on the tossup on lectins that happened at ACF Nationals weeks later. Would I improve my personal ability to compete at ACF Nationals as much by writing HI at a regular-difficulty level? Maybe you can tell me if this is true, but I doubt it intuitively.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:12 pm

Cheynem wrote:Yeah, I agree with Charlie. ACF Fall should be easy. It is written for people with little or limited experience with quizbowl. A reasonably experienced player should probably get 20 points quite easily on most bonuses and should definitely have heard and have had some familiarity with almost all bonus parts. I would argue that actually the vast majority of people who even post on these boards are "reasonably experienced players," actually.
I concede, recalling how some parts did go unanswered.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:14 pm

I powered two tossups at Minnesota Open based on my very brief HSAPQ writing assignment, for what it's worth.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:16 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I think one element is that people like to improve by writing questions. And, well, while I can't say that I was happy with the difficulty of the HI science, there was a tossup on lectins, which allowed me to buzz very early on the tossup on lectins that happened at ACF Nationals weeks later. Would I improve my personal ability to compete at ACF Nationals as much by writing HI at a regular-difficulty level? Maybe you can tell me if this is true, but I doubt it intuitively.
There is also the lost art of good teams getting questions early at easy tournaments, though. People like to disparage any tournament where a good team is routinely buzzing early as being a "muddy battlefield" or so on, but it used to be the standard sort of tournament, and I think bringing it back would have several positive effects, such as encouraging people to write more questions at lower levels, and creating more tournaments that a wider range of teams can play.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:25 pm

Well, it would have those positive effects. Do you agree that it brings a meaningful degree of decreased resolution in matches between top teams? If, in a simplified model, the top teams at a tournament all know clues k to n, then the tossups might as well only have k clues for them.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:54 pm

Also, I think it would be possible for people to run these easy sets on the same weekends as hard opens. UTC ran Moon Pie one year with Fake ICT in the upper division and MUT in the lower division, and I thought that was actually an extremely good idea. Of course there are lots of clubs that probably can't sustain a field of that size. However, I don't think anything would really be lost if, say, someone were to run a novice level tournament on the weekend of MO or HI or FIST somewhere like Pittsburgh or Missouri or wherever might be able to attract non-nationals calibre teams at a much higher rate than the kinds of teams that would want to play the hard set. It might take a little intentional coordination, but I think this could be a viable solution to this problem.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:55 pm

I love you guys, but some of you are such squabbling children. People put together an easy tournament and some of you complain about how easy it is. The editors proofread it, limit every question to 6 lines or less, and make sure it's grammatically correct and you complain about how long it takes your readers to get through it because... reading is hard or something? I didn't go to moderator school to learn how to moderate, I'm a good moderator because I have basic proficiency in the English language.
OpenOffice was not working right
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Probably half of the people at the MIT site read packets off either OpenOffice or Macs, and things worked out just fine. Maybe instead of blaming a perfectly adequate program, you should learn how to use the tools you intend to use to run your tournament.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:55 pm

As a moderator, I was very glad to see how this set played. It was certainly one of the best novice tournaments ever written, and I was very happy to provide some help and suggestions to the new generation of editors who put such excellent work into the set. Gautam did a great job coordinating everything, and Seth Teitler's tremendous and thorough corrections made this set one of the most readable and well-edited (both in terms of clue correctness and grammar) tournaments that's ever been produced.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:01 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Jerry, MIT also had lots of highly experienced staffers sign up, along with some people from their club. We have to recognize that not everywhere has this resource at its disposal. At MU, because without having 2 of my teammates play solo we would have been forced into a 14 round schedule of some sort, we had me, Gordon, Jason Loy, and a local coach who has never read for college before. The laptop that I gave to Mrs. Cella was apparently extremely screwy, and the OpenOffice on it was not working right (apparently it kept scrolling to the top of the page no matter what), so we tried different things for the first 3 rounds until we came up with the solution that having me come by and open up 2 separate copies of the round in TextEdit she was able to get through the games more efficiently. This cost us at least an extra hour, and we already probably would have been running a little slow just because Mrs. Cella hadn't moderated college stuff before. I think our event ended up fine, but only because I chose to run 12 games instead of 14, because I realized that fewer games gave us a buffer in case our staff was slow or something else went wrong.
So, stop giving your moderators computers that don't work and learn to use your software. It's not anyone's fault that you don't understand how to do this. I'm not trying to be harsh to you, but people need to understand what staffing tournaments requires and not just assume things are going to work. Yeah, if you don't have the staff to run the requisite number of rounds you don't have to do it, but no one made you spend that extra hour fixing things. It's not the job of the tournament editors to budget for that.
Also, I think the reality is that there are a lot of places that might not want to play those 13 rounds. Do I? Yes, of course. Do freshmen who played bad high school quizbowl only, or not at all, especially on Halloween, and who woke up early to drive in? Probably not. I don't think there is any crime in decreasing the number of games run at a tournament like ACF Fall (within reason) based on the presumed tastes of the audience. Like I said, Illinois novice ran 10 rounds last year, and I don't think anybody left feeling gypped.
We're talking about 11 rounds. People should get used to the fact that quizbowl tournaments take time to run. I went to plenty of tournaments as a frosh that ran to 6 or 7. That's how this game works.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:13 pm

This was a laptop provided to us by one of the teams in attendance. I did not know until the morning of that we would have to use anything but Microsoft Word, and this particular version of Open Office legitimately was working poorly for unexplained reasons. I don't know anything about Open Office, but when we used this particular computer, it literally scrolled back to the top of the page on it's own every single time our moderator switched windows to go between tossups and bonuses (because I couldn't find a way to split the windows). I don't know how this is our fault or something we should have expected.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by pleasewalkforward » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:34 pm

jonah wrote:
Packet by St. Anselm's and Truman State A wrote:2. The Jews, chronically at the wrong place at the wrong time, have holidays to commemorate such mishaps. Name some, for 10 points each.
[10] This festival, on which leavened bread may not be eaten, celebrates Moses and the Israelites’ escape from their years of Egyptian slavery.
ANSWER: Passover [or Pesach]
[10] On this holiday, Jews feast and read the Book of Esther, recalling the failure of a plot to kill their people by Haman, an advisor to the Persian King Ahasuerus.
ANSWER: Purim [or Festival of Lots; accept equivalents]
[10] Usually occurring in late July or early August, this fast day commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, as well as many other tragedies.
ANSWER: Tisha B’Av [or The Ninth of Av]
This seems like easy-easy-medium to me, but maybe I'm wrong. The content is fine.
Not to belabor the Judaism discussion, but I just want to explain myself. It was my first time writing, and I thought "Passover-Tisha B'Av-Yom HaShoah" or "Purim-Tisha B'Av-Yom HaShoah" might be a bit too hard.
Packet by Maryland A and Case Western wrote:The medieval German hymn Ma’oz Tzur is sung during this holiday, which sees the wide consumption of latkes.
Cliff?

The large Jewish distribution, coupled with:
Packet by St. Anselm's and Truman State A wrote:[10] This Adams opera tells of the hijacking of the Achille Lauro by the PLO and their murder of the title wheelchair-bound Jewish-American. Alice Goodman wrote its libretto.
ANSWER: The Death of Klinghoffer
(from our own packet); and:
Packet by Paul Lawrence Dunbar HS and University of Minnesota wrote:[10] Luther published a sadly typical and popular book about this group and “their lies.” According to Luther, they defame the Lord Jesus Christ and must be driven out like mad dogs.
ANSWER: Jews [accept any subgroup]
and the Hitler tossup led to a good deal of head-shaking by me and likely by my fellow Jewish quizbowlers.

EDIT: And this, again from our own packet:
Packet by St. Anselm's and Truman State A wrote:For 10 points, name this recessive genetic disorder prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews.
ANSWER: Tay-Sachs disease/disorder
Last edited by pleasewalkforward on Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Lapego1 » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:43 pm

Hey,
In general, I'd appreciate any science feedback at mrazvi@sas.upennREMOVETHIS.edu.

Things like the superconductivity repeat were out of my control, so sorry you didn't get to hear the great second law tossup.
theMoMA wrote:Has anyone else noticed that computer science bonuses are just too hard for tournaments like this? The overwhelming majority of the true novice teams I've seen have been completely helpless to get even ten points on those bonuses. Tossups on things like shortest-path algorithms seem like a really poor idea as well. We really shouldn't be writing on things that a decent high school quizbowler, well-educated individual, or any other typical novice has never even heard of.


On CS, unfortunately Rob's bonus never passed by me, but in general, my philosophy was to keep interesting things that allowed for relatively easy give-aways. I think "shortest path algorithms" might've been the edge of askable stuff here, but I thought the giveaway was perhaps appropriate to increase conversion numbers for non-science people. I couldn't attend any site to read, so I'm saying this with no experience as to how it played. Submissions generally shied away from CS tossups, so I tried to salvage as much as I could of those to make things enjoyable for CS people. I'm someone who's only experience with CS is quizbowl and writing a little code in Maple or Matlab, so hopefully the CS was enjoyable.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:26 am

Apart from shortest-path algorithms (which is really as much a discrete math thing as a CS thing anyway), every CS concept that was asked about this tournament, apart from one hard part in a trees bonus, had come up in my AP Computer science course in high school. I think that a knowledge of first-semester computer science isn't too onerous a thing to ask about.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:36 am

Volvo Effect wrote:Apart from shortest-path algorithms (which is really as much a discrete math thing as a CS thing anyway), every CS concept that was asked about this tournament, apart from one hard part in a trees bonus, had come up in my AP Computer science course in high school. I think that a knowledge of first-semester computer science isn't too onerous a thing to ask about.
Yeah; I don't like Andrew's presupposition that fairly basic elements of computer science are "things that a... well-educated individual... has never even heard of." I think it's easier to be a well-educated individual, as well as fairly well-rounded, without having heard of Soyinka's second most famous play than without having heard of, like, some terms from high school computer science classes. If you want to fill out your education with classes you could have taken but didn't take in high school later on, then you'll encounter those things, guaranteed. Is it as likely that you'll, in so doing, run into some of the other hard parts at this tournament? I don't think so.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:42 am

Cheynem wrote:Apparently the thing about "feeding the hungry" is a reference to a Goebbels speech in 1938 where he outlines Nazi principles of having a healthy Master Race. As it stands, I do not think it was a helpful clue at all unless a more experienced quizbowler can educate me as to the clue's importance.
If you want to see a better (IMO) novice-level tossup about Hitler, check out the one I wrote for Illinois Novice in 2008.

I tend to find quote clues, such as "this dude once said x", or "one line in this text says x", or "Oscar Wilde said of this thing, x" to be less than useful, especially when they are wholly divorced from context. I find this especially true for history. Does anyone agree with me?
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:57 am

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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by tiwonge » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:09 am

FWIW, I don't have a problem with most of the comp sci questions I've heard. Most of them seem reasonable to me, and my knowledge of computer science is mostly from my high school computer science classes 2 decades ago, plus some discrete math knowledge accumulated since then.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Charbroil » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:31 am

Yeah, I'm usually pretty terrible at CS, and I didn't think it was too bad at this tournament--it definitely reflected the things we learned about in first semester computer science.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:04 am

Volvo Effect wrote:Apart from shortest-path algorithms (which is really as much a discrete math thing as a CS thing anyway), every CS concept that was asked about this tournament, apart from one hard part in a trees bonus, had come up in my AP Computer science course in high school. I think that a knowledge of first-semester computer science isn't too onerous a thing to ask about.
There is a substantial percentage of schools that don't offer real computer science classes, and they are always electives. Unlike areas like painting or sculpture which also aren't usually covered, hash tables are not something that are in the collective consciousness, that intellectually driven people go to museums to see, or that anyone or can look up and appreciate on Google Images. Computer science is a very technical field that requires some basic training to understand, and most people in the target audience of ACF Fall don't have that training, and don't have the quizbowl knowledge required to fake it for points.

It's not a presupposition that people don't know these things, either. It's an empiric fact that I've noticed while reading for high schoolers and inexperienced teams at novice tournaments. Unless they are in the small majority who have a player that has taken classes in computer science, novice teams routinely zero bonuses and fail to answer tossups in computer science. Teams frequently verbally express frustration when these bonuses come up because they know they won't have heard of any of the parts.

I'm not saying we can't ask about computer science at the high school or novice level, but we certainly can't write the kind that was present at this tournament. Shortest-path algorithms are not an acceptable tossup answer, and linked lists are not an acceptable easy part. Tossups on things like "heaps" or "trees" are not going to be good for 70% of the target audience, even if they have a cutesy giveaway. It's fine to write tossups on stuff like "Fibonacci," or "search algorithms" that are eminently gettable by real math and computer science knowledge by the end. Bonuses should have an easy part that someone with no computer science experience should get, as well as something incredibly basic in computer science as the middle part.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:11 am

theMoMA wrote:linked lists are not an acceptable easy part.
For clarity, linked lists were not the easy part of this particular bonus; pointers were.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:24 am

Ukonvasara wrote:
theMoMA wrote:linked lists are not an acceptable easy part.
For clarity, linked lists were not the easy part of this particular bonus; pointers were.
Either way, not nearly enough novices know what those are.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Lapego1 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:35 am

Ukonvasara wrote:
theMoMA wrote:linked lists are not an acceptable easy part.
For clarity, linked lists were not the easy part of this particular bonus; pointers were.
For the record, I would've probably made it linked list/pointer/null pointer and made null an easy part with references to non-CS stuff (linked list was one of like five CS answers that I remember coming up in high school, so I figured that was a reasonable middle part).
theMoMA wrote:I'm not saying we can't ask about computer science at the high school or novice level, but we certainly can't write the kind that was present at this tournament. Shortest-path algorithms are not an acceptable tossup answer, and linked lists are not an acceptable easy part. Tossups on things like "heaps" or "trees" are not going to be good for 70% of the target audience, even if they have a cutesy giveaway. It's fine to write tossups on stuff like "Fibonacci," or "search algorithms" that are eminently gettable by real math and computer science knowledge by the end. Bonuses should have an easy part that someone with no computer science experience should get, as well as something incredibly basic in computer science as the middle part.
Like I said upthread, there would be almost no CS at this tournament if I went through and cut every "unreasonable" CS TU submitted, and my perception was that there was very little among the submissions to begin with. Instead, I chose to keep some things people submitted that could be made to have good giveaways. I don't think I would've had any greater likelihood of converting a "search algorithms" tossup than a "shortest path algorithms" tossup as a freshman.

What we can accept is that CS does not have a well-defined canon at the novice level, and to make things gettable by the end is not an easy task for any CS topic, so resorting to cutesy giveaways might be the only choice at this level? It's like "sonic the hedgehog pathway" questions. Also, things like "trees" are tossed up in high school, so if there was a tossup on that, I would expect that to be on the higher end of conversion. I tried (and hopefully succeeded) to make all of the math accessible. I was unsure about the CS, but based on people saying this stuff came up in their classes, I don't think it was as bad as you make it out to be.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:37 am

I was under the impression that the consensus was if it impossible to make difficulty appropriate questions that are also well written, then you should decrease the distribution of them for a tournament.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:59 am

I'm not actually trying to diss the computer science Mehdi wrote and edited, because I think it's completely in line with the "standards" that novice tournaments, and high school tournaments edited by college players, have long adhered to. I'm just saying those standards are wrong. In my experience, there are almost no novice players who have any knowledge of heaps, trees, hashes, or linked lists, if they have even heard of those terms. Sure, you can get a couple of bewildered new players to say "tree" after you tell them it's a thing that comes in "forests," but that's about it.

What I want to see is for computer science questions aimed at novices to have a legitimate academic giveaway that a majority of novices know. Write a computer science tossup that turns into a math tossup for the last two lines if that's what it takes. Simply asking about data structures a lot does not make them knowable for people without quizbowl experience. True quizbowl novices are the people we really cannot afford to have rolling their eyes in despair nearly once per packet, if we can help it.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Alejandro » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:15 am

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I was under the impression that the consensus was if it impossible to make difficulty appropriate questions that are also well written, then you should decrease the distribution of them for a tournament.
CS is an optional category, and at most 1 CS question can show up in a packet. It can't be decreased any further without eliminating it.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:28 am

That's the point, Alejandro.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:29 am

Alejandro wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I was under the impression that the consensus was if it impossible to make difficulty appropriate questions that are also well written, then you should decrease the distribution of them for a tournament.
CS is an optional category, and at most 1 CS question can show up in a packet. It can't be decreased any further without eliminating it.
So maybe not all packets should have CS?

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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by fluffy4102 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:36 am

theMoMA wrote:
Volvo Effect wrote:Apart from shortest-path algorithms (which is really as much a discrete math thing as a CS thing anyway), every CS concept that was asked about this tournament, apart from one hard part in a trees bonus, had come up in my AP Computer science course in high school. I think that a knowledge of first-semester computer science isn't too onerous a thing to ask about.
There is a substantial percentage of schools that don't offer real computer science classes, and they are always electives. Unlike areas like painting or sculpture which also aren't usually covered, hash tables are not something that are in the collective consciousness, that intellectually driven people go to museums to see, or that anyone or can look up and appreciate on Google Images. Computer science is a very technical field that requires some basic training to understand, and most people in the target audience of ACF Fall don't have that training, and don't have the quizbowl knowledge required to fake it for points.

It's not a presupposition that people don't know these things, either. It's an empiric fact that I've noticed while reading for high schoolers and inexperienced teams at novice tournaments. Unless they are in the small majority who have a player that has taken classes in computer science, novice teams routinely zero bonuses and fail to answer tossups in computer science. Teams frequently verbally express frustration when these bonuses come up because they know they won't have heard of any of the parts.

I'm not saying we can't ask about computer science at the high school or novice level, but we certainly can't write the kind that was present at this tournament. Shortest-path algorithms are not an acceptable tossup answer, and linked lists are not an acceptable easy part. Tossups on things like "heaps" or "trees" are not going to be good for 70% of the target audience, even if they have a cutesy giveaway. It's fine to write tossups on stuff like "Fibonacci," or "search algorithms" that are eminently gettable by real math and computer science knowledge by the end. Bonuses should have an easy part that someone with no computer science experience should get, as well as something incredibly basic in computer science as the middle part.
The same can be said for a lot of fields outside of computer science, so I'm not sure if the standard fits. It's not often that high schools offer classes that discuss Grignard reagents or Karl Popper, but they were the basis of questions for this and past ACF Falls. While I think that accessibility is great and should be maximized, excluding information based on the fact that a group of people who will never try to learn the subject will zero might not be the best option. There's always a chance that teams might have a freshman comp sci major. I could say the same for opera, multiple social sciences, and certain types of philosophy.
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:43 am

The point is that it is much more possible for you to be able to learn about opera, social sciences, or philosophy without taking classes on it. That is barely in the same ballpark as computer science, unless you are extremely geared towards that subject already and are willing to read textbooks (which is still far more time than it takes to learn about any of the subjects I listed above.)
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Re: ACF Fall 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:15 am

My position on other things that are too hard for Fall continues to be that they are too hard for Fall. Also, I believe Grignard reagents were a noted hard part at this tournament.
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

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