History of the quiz bowl distribution

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deserto
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History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by deserto » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:19 pm

Could anyone reading this post shed some light on how the present quiz bowl subject distribution came to be?

I recognize that the distribution is not a totally rigid thing and often varies slightly from set to set. But at least in the 20/20 format, it seems to be the consensus opinion that there should always be 4/4 literature, history, and science, with slightly less fine arts and RMP and even less geography, current events, and TRASH. How did this become the norm? Who decided what subjects to include and to what degree? Why did the natural sciences end up being privileged over the social sciences, or even painting over film? And this might be a question best directed at Jeff Hoppes (are you out there?), but how did NAQT develop its distribution and remarkably specific sub-distribution?

I write not to criticize the distribution as it stands now (surely lit, history, and science are centrally important academic subjects), but to inquire about how this hallmark of pyramidal quiz bowl came to be. Is a lone QB forefather or mother responsible? Or perhaps a more democratic decision following years of experimentation? And why has but one subject breakdown, with slight variations, become so largely accepted in a community that appears to love arguing and debating theory? Any insights are welcome.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by vinteuil » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:51 pm

I don't know anything about the origins of the distribution, but this classic thread (started by, of all people, Andy Watkins) seems relevant: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=6994

And just to show that the distribution is far from unchanging: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=15605 has had, I think an effect on how people are conceptualizing and distributing "thought" and arts questions.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:58 pm

Jacques Derrida's friend Jeff Kipnis claims to have invented the use of 20 questions as the standard while he was at Georgia Tech. Joe Wells wrote a very interesting post about his interview with Jeff, who teaches at Ohio State now: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 50#p282850

EDIT: he's also pretty interesting in his own right: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Kipnis
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Kouign Amann » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:09 pm

Inkana7 wrote:Jacques Derrida's friend Jeff Kipnis claims to have invented the use of 20 questions as the standard while he was at Georgia Tech. Joe Wells wrote a very interesting post about his interview with Jeff, who teaches at Ohio State now: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 50#p282850

EDIT: he's also pretty interesting in his own right: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Kipnis
Oh man, I had to read some Kipnis stuff this semester and didn't connect the two at all. For the curious, his writing totally blows.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:16 pm

Kouign Amann wrote: Oh man, I had to read some Kipnis stuff this semester and didn't connect the two at all. For the curious, his writing totally blows.
Inkana7 wrote:Jacques Derrida's friend
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:49 pm

A big part in the history of setting the distribution is the formation of ACF in the 1990s. There were tournaments before that with similar distributions, but they would announce distributions each year that were followed by other tournaments. Older tournaments such as CBI and QU never had fixed distributions. The ACF distribution has changed several times over the years, but the changes have largely been tinkering--the distribution today is pretty similar to the distribution 20 years ago. My sense is that the people who deserve credit for the current distribution are the people mentioned in the ACF QBWiki article, but it's probably a bit more complicated than that.

At the high school level, distributions were set at the state level in many places. Tournaments run by state organizations like IHSA and MSHSAA still set their own distributions that could differ significantly from mACF. Because of this, there was much less mirroring of sets until the last ten years--teams in Illinois expected sets in IHSA format, teams in Missouri expected sets in MSHSAA format, etc. There were always some exceptions, and those exceptions grew after this forum was created in 2003. In some places, somewhere around 2010 was the tipping point when mACF format became more common than the state format. The DC/Mid-Atlantic area was ahead of that curve. The change was that high school sets started being more like ACF sets, though with easier questions and less social science, and state-specific formats became less popular. (The social science has gone down even more in the last couple of years.)

The NAQT format has been fairly consistent over the years and has always had less fine arts than ACF sets as well as more current events and geography. The big changes were that before about 2008 or so, there was no consistency of distribution across a set--there would be an average of a certain number of literature questions across a set, but the number in any given round could be significantly more or less than that. Also, there has been a decrease in the amount of computational math. There used to be more than 1/1 per packet, and the elimination of computational tossups from HSNCT took place around 2010.

The NSC distribution hasn't changed much in recent years, though there were significant changes made during the first few years of the tournament. The tournament had a fair amount of trash when it started in 1998 but has not had any for a while. Also, the NSC had a four quarter format until 2010--one of the reasons given for the original format was that a single format would disadvantage teams from states with a different format.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:31 pm

Yellow-throated Honeyeater wrote:Also, the NSC had a four quarter format until 2010--one of the reasons given for the original format was that a single format would disadvantage teams from states with a different format.
Well, three "quarter"s. As I understand it, the original NSC format was something of a Great Compromise between many different local formats and ideas.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Eddie » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:44 am

Matthew J wrote:
Yellow-throated Honeyeater wrote:Also, the NSC had a four quarter format until 2010--one of the reasons given for the original format was that a single format would disadvantage teams from states with a different format.
Well, three "quarter"s. As I understand it, the original NSC format was something of a Great Compromise between many different local formats and ideas.
And from what I learned in the IRC the other day, the NSC format decided to keep bouncebacks and 20-point powers partially out of tradition, and partially to maintain the potential 1000 total points possible in a single game.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:43 am

Yellow-throated Honeyeater wrote:The big changes were that before about 2008 or so, there was no consistency of distribution across a set--there would be an average of a certain number of literature questions across a set, but the number in any given round could be significantly more or less than that.
This isn't quite correct- we have used the same packet-assignment code for more than 15 years. Some categories will end up slightly uneven because the raw number of questions doesn't match the total number of packets (like the 13 physics bonuses in a 14-packet 2014-15 IS set), but our systems try to even out such things as closely as possible.
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:46 am

Yellow-throated Honeyeater wrote:There has been a decrease in the amount of computational math. There used to be more than 1/1 per packet, and the elimination of computational tossups from HSNCT took place around 2010.
Computational math was approximately 2/0 for both regular-season sets and HSNCT through the 2008-2009 competition year. Since then it has been about 1/1 for regular-season play and 0/1 for HSNCT.
Jeff Hoppes
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VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
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Re: History of the quiz bowl distribution

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:52 am

deserto wrote:And this might be a question best directed at Jeff Hoppes (are you out there?), but how did NAQT develop its distribution and remarkably specific sub-distribution?
I'll have more to say about this next week (after I consult with NAQT's other members and editors).
Jeff Hoppes
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former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

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