Prompt: can it be more specific

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Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:30 am

Suppose we have the following situation. You write a tossup on "Finnish communists". As your first clue, you discuss a super-obscure group of Finnish Maoists. As your second clue, you mention a group of Finnish Trotskyists.

A player who didn't know anything about clue 1 buzzes on clue 2 and answers "Communists". He is prompted. He says "Trotskyites", as he guesses that the TU is going for a particular type of Communist. He is negged.

Suppose that, instead, the moderator had said "I need a country" rather than just "prompt". The player probably would not have negged, but would still be forced to display real knowledge before getting points.

In common links like these (where there might be ambiguity as to the characteristic by which the group is defined), should we authorize moderators to make more specific prompts such as "I need a country"? Presumably we could include things like "ask for country if "Communists" is given" so that this process is automatic and moderators don't abuse this or exercise it poorly.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:06 am

Seems like if you anticipate your question being that vague but you're still hellbent on writing it, you could start with a statement like "country and group required," or something of that nature. Probably a better idea is just to write a different question.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:30 am

Unless it specifies to give a country in that instance, I think you could just write a question on "communists" using only clues about Finland. Also, whenever I write a question like that, I usually tell the moderator to accept things like "Trotskyists", "Maoists", etc, if the clues in isolation apply to them.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:33 am

grapesmoker wrote:Seems like if you anticipate your question being that vague but you're still hellbent on writing it, you could start with a statement like "country and group required," or something of that nature. Probably a better idea is just to write a different question.
This seems like a worthy idea; I might try it out at Spring Offensive and see if it works.


@Eric: in this case, we're assuming that the question is flawed. Obviously perfect questions eliminate this problem.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by stevebahnaman » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:52 pm

The question for me as a moderator is more philosophical. Like, I didn't write the question. I don't want to screw the players over because the answer line is weird. *Should* it be okay to give a more specific prompt under this circumstance?
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by DumbJaques » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:22 am

Hey, this is a great topic - I think this is an area where we can rather simply enact some serious improvements in the game, and decrease significantly the amount of times people get punished for knowledge.

At Titanomachy at Maryland two years ago, Andrew Lim buzzed in on a Sicilian Expedition question off of clues about the siege of Syracuse and answered "siege of Syracuse." The reader just happened to be Matt Weiner, noted author of said tournament, and he prompted him with "can you be less specific." I can't see any reason why this kind of thing would be a problem, since you're talking about cases in which a person is demonstrating precise but incomplete knowledge. Sure, it's valid to say that you should just stop writing those fucking "Bosnian microbiologists" questions (and, you sure should!) and just use normal answer lines with clues from a specific field or nationality or whatever, but there are plenty of examples (like the Sicilian expedition) where a bit more flexible definition of the prompt would be a boon.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun May 02, 2010 12:23 pm

I got an idea today that it might be possible to use the Review feature in Word to provide more specific prompting. Essentially, this feature lets you highlight individual clues and add a comment to them saying "Accept so and so" or "Prompt on so and so" that apply on to the highlighted portion of text. Things get a little messy when these comments overlap, but if you click a specific comment it will show you precisely what portion of the question the comment applies to.

I think this system could potentially be used to make a moderator's life easier as well. Instead of having something in the answer line like ("accept early buzzes of X"), you could just highlight the portion of text where X is an acceptable answer.

This also solves some problems of giving more specific answers for common link tossups. For instance, take that tossup on "Freedom of Religion" from Bruce's history tournament in 2008. The clue on the Edict of Nantes could be highlighted to say "prompt on Freedom to be a Huguenot". That way you avoid penalizing people who know what the Edict of Nantes is but are failing to put it in the context of earlier clues.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by grapesmoker » Sun May 02, 2010 1:02 pm

Why can't you just add the "prompt on" part to the answer line like normal? I don't see what this Word review feature adds and it makes portability a pain in the ass. I encourage people to avoid advanced Word features whenever possible.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by jonah » Sun May 02, 2010 1:16 pm

I like the idea—I agree with Mike that it makes noting what parts of the question correspond to what parts of the answer line a bit easier—but I also think Jerry's concern is inhibitory: it's a very nonportable solution, and in my experience most editing doesn't take place in Word anyway, so it's extra work that would have to be done at a juncture in the editing process that is usually pretty rushed anyway.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun May 02, 2010 1:24 pm

Yeah, Jerry's right. I am 100% against a solution that a moderator could very easily screw up (if he doesn't know he should mouse-over the clue whereever the player buzzed, you're fucked) when there is an equivalent solution that just writes some damn words on the page. It is much harder to fuck up damn words on the page.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun May 02, 2010 1:45 pm

I have perhaps overstated the difficulty of seeing these prompts. Here's a screenshot:

Image

In this case it's very clear what the moderator should do. The benefit would be in a common-link style question where there are a bunch of "accept this, but don't accept this except on buzzes on that" things in the answer line.

Regarding portability, this feature does also exist in OpenOffice Writer (see http://open-tube.com/openoffice-writer- ... lternative). Its lack of support in Google Docs could be a deal breaker, though. Seeing as how most tournaments still do use Word or some equivalent to generate the final version of the packets, though, it would still be feasible to add these in if desired.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun May 02, 2010 2:50 pm

What about the tourneys that read off paper?
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sun May 02, 2010 7:16 pm

The Granny wrote:What about the tourneys that read off paper?
What is this paper you speak of?
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun May 02, 2010 7:16 pm

Jesus vs. Dragons wrote:
The Granny wrote:What about the tourneys that read off paper?
What is this paper you speak of?
The substance which was used for the packets for 2009 ACF Nationals, and NAQT tournaments.

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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun May 02, 2010 7:17 pm

While I think you can print out questions with these comments, they don't look very good that way, so I guess that's a valid point against them.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Susan » Sun May 02, 2010 7:31 pm

I don't think this is a great idea generally (if you've written a question where there are different alternate answers acceptable in overlapping regions and the best way to make it clear to the moderator is to use comments, everyone's going to be better off if you rewrite the question so that's no longer the case). Also, I know from bitter experience that some aspects of trackback/review are not compatible between different versions of Word (or perhaps different versions of Word running on different OSes?); I'm not sure if that's true of comments, but if it is, that's one more log on the compatibility issues fire.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sun May 02, 2010 7:35 pm

Why is it not clear enough to simply put on the answer line [prompt on X before mention of Y] or [accept X before Y is mentioned]? That's seemed to work pretty well, and any question that would require many complicated prompt permutations is probably not so hot a question anyhow.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun May 02, 2010 8:08 pm

If the goal is just to make it easier to find Y in an answer line of [prompt on X before mention of Y], you could just highlight Y in some unobtrusive color.
Image
I'm not sure if that's any better than without the highlight, but it seems simpler than using the comment tool and is unlikely to have compatibility issues.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Mon May 03, 2010 3:07 am

I think the problem with prompts is that a lot of the time you are left wondering what the prompt is going for. To use Bruce's example, who would know to go from "Trotskyists" to "Finnish Communists"? This answer space is pretty clearly intended for a high level of difficulty, but I would imagine most people who buzz in would go something like this:
BUZZ: Communists
Prompt
Trotskyists
I don't think I can take that

At which point the moderator and player would be thoroughly confused. If the situation were reversed, would a "reverse prompt" be in order to get the players train of thought back from the specific form of Communism to general Communism to Communists of a specific nationality? I personally don't think that writing it off as "this would be a bad question, so lets just avoid it" is very conducive, although it is the best option. If a question like this is going to be written, and many have already been written, shouldn't we discuss ways to make it easier to resolve for the future? I can see how saying Trotskyists would be incorrect, as the clue before it gave info on Maoists, but shouldn't displaying knowledge that deep in a subject be rewarded with points? I may be able to think of some examples from different genres tomorrow to help solidify opinions.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon May 03, 2010 10:15 am

Jesus vs. Dragons wrote:I personally don't think that writing it off as "this would be a bad question, so lets just avoid it" is very conducive...
Very conducive of what, exactly? I claim that most of the situations in which the pseudo-problem of requiring a directed prompt occurs arise from ill-posed questions, i.e. ones from which no unique answer is derivable from sufficiently large sets of clues. Such questions are bad and we should just avoid writing them. That's my advice: if you find you think your question might require a directed prompt, fix it so it doesn't.

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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by grapesmoker » Mon May 03, 2010 10:27 am

Captain Sinico wrote: That's my advice: if you find you think your question might require a directed prompt, fix it so it doesn't.
Or be clear about what you're looking for up front. To use a trash example, "Team and year required." Extrapolate as necessary to your application.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Mon May 03, 2010 12:28 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote: That's my advice: if you find you think your question might require a directed prompt, fix it so it doesn't.
Or be clear about what you're looking for up front. To use a trash example, "Team and year required." Extrapolate as necessary to your application.
Exactly. Obviously, prompts that direct one to accept an alternate name before that alternate name is mentioned are not indicative of a bad question. But if you're writing your tossup and thinking, "Hmm, half of this stuff could be a hose for Trotskyists instead of Finnish communists. Better make lots of prompts!" then you should write your tossup in such a way that it's clear that a nation is involved, or just make all our lives easier and write it on some other facet of communism.
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Duncan Idaho » Mon May 03, 2010 2:03 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Or be clear about what you're looking for up front. To use a trash example, "Team and year required." Extrapolate as necessary to your application.
Along the same line, you could use a model from music tossups, like "One work of this type by this composer" for Smetana operas (NSC 2009). In this situation, perhaps it could be adapted to "these types of people from this country."
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Re: Prompt: can it be more specific

Post by Coelacanth » Mon May 03, 2010 4:11 pm

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:If the goal is just to make it easier to find Y in an answer line of [prompt on X before mention of Y], you could just highlight Y in some unobtrusive color.
Image
I'm not sure if that's any better than without the highlight, but it seems simpler than using the comment tool and is unlikely to have compatibility issues.
It does seem that we're talking about solutions in search of a problem here.

For me personally, if I am reading packets from a screen (as opposed to paper) there is absolutely no way I'm going to leave comments on. I cannot stand reading with all those squiggly red underlines and pop-up comment boxes everywhere.
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