Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

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Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:35 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:"A" sets really should be used for freshmen and sophomores (maybe just freshmen), honestly, as it really is a good introduction to play... then they can be discarded as they will learn what "good quizbowl" is all about and reach for higher levels.
Are they really? They certainly can be said to be of a lower quality (on some metric) than IS sets--the questions are typically shorter; I've witnessed more misplaced clues; perhaps owing to the lower target difficulty, bonus difficulty is more variable. It's indisputable that if you had a product that's easier than an IS set while maintaining excellent quality, then that product would be a great introduction for new players to quizbowl. But that product should be the beginning of players learning what "good quizbowl" is all about; that learning should start as early as possible. I don't know if A sets meet that objective.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:39 pm

Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by Sir Thopas » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:41 pm

I mean, I'd much rather send a team to HAVOC than an A-level tournament. It may not be realistic to have high schoolers write more of those, but I think it was a great service to the community. Other than that, just making regular tournaments accessible and interesting for all.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:45 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
Whether or not an A-set is itself a good introduction to quizbowl ought to be evaluated on the merits of an A-set alone; I say that A-sets have certain deficiencies that keep them from being "good," and I believe those deficiencies are correctable, entailing that there can exist a better introduction. I don't have to produce one myself or show someone who has.

EDIT: as Guy says, high school housewrites do a fine job. Difficulty control is sometimes imperfect, but I'd say that it's often better done than it is with A-sets.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:02 pm

A-Sets aren't all bad; one of my coaches who was, up until this point, vehemently anti-anything pyramidal, actually seems to like A sets okay and is reading them in practice sometimes. So, hey, that's good.
Also, I have to say that, if you told me as a sophomore captain that good quizbowl is 7 line long questions where I, as a sophomore, would sit with a blank stare for the first six lines and that we were only going to play good quizbowl from now on, I would have quit the team. I like quizbowl. There's something to be said for easing a team into good quizbowl instead of just saying, "Here, we're playing ACF now." We have a sophomore who played NNT as his first tournament. It turned him off.
The question is, I guess, what should you ease a team in on from :chip: to good quizbowl? And that's an answer I don't have.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by intothenegs » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:35 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
Well, A-sets aren't necessarily easier for new players. I think there was a thread on this earlier this year about Stendhal appearing in an A set with a bunch of misplaced clues. In any case, Stendhal isn't exactly accessible to most freshmen and sophomores. Misplacing the clues doesn't make the tossup any more easier for them. Instead of writing bad questions on harder answer choices, I think introductory tournaments should focus on writing good questions on easier answer choices.

And yeah, I agree that there needs to be more events like HAVOC; my team had only played real pyramidal quizbowl once before HAVOC, yet my team members found the questions very accessible. I think it would be a major step in the right direction if a group of high school players around the nation would be willing to work together on some sort of novice set that would be accessible to freshmen and new players and still be good quizbowl.

Edit: In other words, there should be some sort of a high school novice set that could be mirrored in a lot of places, kind of like EFT.
Last edited by intothenegs on Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:44 pm

Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
If they are curious, then they will quickly get better. A-sets may good introductions for refugees from :chip: who are used to doing very well with little knowledge, but someone who has never picked up a buzzer but is curious and intelligent will be eqally statasfied, if not more statsfied, with good questions.
Also, I have to say that, if you told me as a sophomore captain that good quizbowl is 7 line long questions where I, as a sophomore, would sit with a blank stare for the first six lines and that we were only going to play good quizbowl from now on, I would have quit the team. I like quizbowl. There's something to be said for easing a team into good quizbowl instead of just saying, "Here, we're playing ACF now." We have a sophomore who played NNT as his first tournament. It turned him off
That's unfortuate, but did he have a clear idea what the questions would be like? I suspect the aforementioned coach's habit of practicing on bad questions may have been a problem, since the sophmore may have thought that the questions at NNT would be like that.
I know I can’t reveal answers, but when I see a bonus that puts at a huge disadvantage Jews living on the eastern seaboard, I am disgusted. The tossups were very short and often devoid of academic content, and with entirely misplaced clues.
I had the misfortune of playing 82-A, and while I cannot testify to anything relating to the first point(aside from the fact that I can only remember hearing questions involving Jewish stuff at non-NAQT tournaments), I can testify to the second.
think a big problem with A sets, IS sets, and NAQT's question writing philosophy in general is that NAQT does not heed any sort of quizbowl canon that is actually becoming pretty well defined, at least at the HS level.
I concur with this. However, you forgot the two other pillars of NAQT's canon-geography and questions about painting rooms.
The other big problem NAQT has, I think, is that it thinks that good questions are of necessity inacessible.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:36 pm

This seems to be two questions in one:

Is it possible to produce a set of questions that are fully pyramidal and follow "good quizbowl" principles while still at a difficulty level better suited for new players?

The answer to this one is a definite yes. Slightly shorter questions (meaning 4-5 lines as opposed to 5-8), more accessible clues, and an easier canon of tossup answers might help said set if its goal is to help players get introduced to the game. (Slightly related note: We used the HAVOC set in practice for the first few weeks with our new players this year; it worked really well at doing this.) I am in favor of this type of set if it gets more newer and/or JV-level players involved.

Are NAQT A-sets doing a good job at this?

I have some doubts. The tossups are really short, and the previously mentioned "Stendhal" example shows that the subject matter isn't that different. When instructional value is concerned, is there really much of a difference between playing an A-set and playing a higherthanA-set-quality regular IS-set? I'm not sure myself if there is one. I have admittedly never played a tournament run on an A-set - what do newer players (and reflecting experienced players) think of the discrepancy between A-level games and regular ones? If it becomes a clear consensus that A-sets aren't any better introduction to quizbowl than regular IS-sets, it may be time to cut back on producing them.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:04 pm

My kids (the younger ones) tell me A Sets are easier, but there are less clues to the questions and sometimes they get in buzzer races right at the end. It's exactly what i would say if i were playing now as well.

However they may "enjoy" them more just because they do better at them instead of the others where they get frustrated by never having heard of a lot of the stuff.

Again, you're talking about public high school freshmen who had never played/heard of quizbowl before this year, since there is no middle school in the area who plays (contrary to my repeated steps to start such a thing). So, yeah.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by OctagonJoe » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:14 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Again, you're talking about public high school freshmen who had never played/heard of quizbowl before this year, since there is no middle school in the area who plays (contrary to my repeated steps to start such a thing). So, yeah.
I went to a public high school and started playing quizbowl my freshman year without having heard of it before then and without anything similar to it being offered to me in middle school. I played for 3 years almost exclusively on NAQT questions, and I improved ever so slightly mainly because I took classes, not because my team practiced on old NAQT sets once a week. The summer before my senior year, I learned that stuff other than NAQT existed, and by practicing once or twice a week on questions with an actual canon, went from being a questionable choice for my school's A team to its leading scorer. Maybe my teachers were just spectacular during my senior year, but as far as I can tell, you can't really improve much as a player by just looking through A sets (which I still believe has a lot to do with the lack of a consistent canon in NAQT's sets).
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:25 pm

Oh absolutely, i'm not disagreeing with anything you're saying. Believe me, i hate practicing much on A Sets... we do at the beginning of the year just to get them in the swing of things, but i almost always avoid them.

But when i took them to Maryland and HSAPQ set #1 was used... well i mean our B, C, and D teams went a combined 1-17 and were stunned at the difficulty of the questions. This leads to the completely different discussion of the necessity of a V/JV split at almost all tournaments, but i don't want to make yet another thread split into another topic.

If so many people complain about A Sets, why do so many teams still show up to play them (even the Gonzagas and Charters and Hunters and Walt Whitmans of the circuit)? And even if it's slightly lame, i'll tell you, if those teams stop showing up to those events, but events are still held with A Sets, hell... that's even MORE reason for us to go (at least, that's what my kids will definitely tell me).
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by intothenegs » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:30 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:My kids (the younger ones) tell me A Sets are easier, but there are less clues to the questions and sometimes they get in buzzer races right at the end. It's exactly what i would say if i were playing now as well.

However they may "enjoy" them more just because they do better at them instead of the others where they get frustrated by never having heard of a lot of the stuff.

Again, you're talking about public high school freshmen who had never played/heard of quizbowl before this year, since there is no middle school in the area who plays (contrary to my repeated steps to start such a thing). So, yeah.
I'm also from a relatively small public high school and have a number of new freshmen/sophomores who have never played quizbowl before on my team for the first time this year, and they very much prefer HAVOC-level mACF sets to NAQT A-sets. This is partly because the A-sets we practice on have short tossups about "Operation Torch" and "Stendhal" while HAVOC has tossups on "War of 1812" and "The Great Gatsby." In other words, the HAVOC set asked things that freshmen going to a public high school who haven't played quizbowl before might be expected to know. The main problem is that there is a serious lack of good quizbowl sets written for novice high school play, so NAQT is able to fill in that demand with crappy A-sets.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:37 pm

Other than the HAVOC set on quizbowlpackets.com, where else can i get samples or further information on them?
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:40 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
You don't need to "go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga" or have "superstud seniors" to become good at quizbowl. A good introduction to quizbowl, in my opinion, would be reading sets on your own. Even more difficult sets like PACE/NNT/HFT, when read alone, wouldn't scare away players, in my opinion. Without the pressure of competition, the player could learn without feeling intimidated. Seriously, tell new players to go to quizbowlpackets.com. The Internet is the new player's best friend.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by intothenegs » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:56 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Other than the HAVOC set on quizbowlpackets.com, where else can i get samples or further information on them?
HAVOC was a tournament run by Gov last year to introduce teams that played mainly their local formats to good pyramidal quizbowl. The set on qbpackets is the only HAVOC set that currently exists, I think.
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Re: High Schoolers and Writing for NAQT

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:01 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:
Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Then what's a better introduction? Again, keeping in mind the majority of starting players are not geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
You don't need to "go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga" or have "superstud seniors" to become good at quizbowl. A good introduction to quizbowl, in my opinion, would be reading sets on your own. Even more difficult sets like PACE/NNT/HFT, when read alone, wouldn't scare away players, in my opinion. Without the pressure of competition, the player could learn without feeling intimidated. Seriously, tell new players to go to quizbowlpackets.com. The Internet is the new player's best friend.
I do. It's one of the highlighted links on the team's website. Whether they actually use it is another thing altogether.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by The Laughing Man » Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:07 pm

I firmly believe that the best way to get new teams to improve is to expose them to academic questions. As a young player, I played nothing but NAQT and was a terrible player. Although since I knew very little, I wasn't great at NAQT, I got enough sports and computational mathematics that I didn't realize how horrible I was. Not until I went to PACE at the end of my sophmore year and scored 10 ppg on a team that went 4-6 did I realize that it might actually be necessary to know stuff. So I agree with basically all of the other posters and I would add that I think that the best introduction to quizbowl would be an mACF distribution tournament with a really tiny answer space. I don't think that shorter questions are better because I think it is important for players to learn quickly that learning deep knowledge will actually pay off and because there would be nothing more rewarding for a new player than to get power off a very obscure clue about Great Expectations because (s)he just read it in school. Obviously we don't want 8 liners, but I think that they need to be reasonably long, with clear pyramidality and that it is okay if they have some difficult clues.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:17 am

The Laughing Man wrote:Obviously we don't want 8 liners, but I think that they need to be reasonably long, with clear pyramidality and that it is okay if they have some difficult clues.
Not only is it okay, it's necessary. The most rewarding moments in quizbowl are when you get questions off genuinely hard leadins that you know because you have special knowledge. I've powered terrible questions on Huis Clos and not been happy about it because the leadin was taken from the description of the set on the first page. I've buzzed on the leadins of great tossups before and been very proud of the fact that I knew about the Cossee-Arlman mechanism. There are going to be first-time players who just happen to know something deep, and if you include some hard clues at the beginning, they get to get that one satisfying buzz that hooks them for four more years of quizbowl. I really believe if kids come in expecting not to know many of the early clues, but interested in hearing them (this means that early clues can't blow; almanac stuff is out of the question), they'll not be too frustrated by them.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:24 am

A-sets, because they are really just reused questions from NAQT TV tournaments, are short, frequently have poor pyrimidality, and sometimes contain answers that are ridiculous for novices: things like tossups on Jasper Johns or on the inventor of freeze-drying. Regular IS-Sets have little difference in any sort of difficulty, and, despite having their own endemic set of problems, are less awful. I think that when I was a freshman, I spent the first half of the year on this.

Then, I discovered that there were more difficult tournaments, and I practiced with Raja Vel and some others on those. I started improving much more quickly.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by at your pleasure » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:31 am

If so many people complain about A Sets, why do so many teams still show up to play them (even the Gonzagas and Charters and Hunters and Walt Whitmans of the circuit)?
Because half the tournaments NAQT runs are on A-sets. Even in college, when intro-level questions are of far higher quality, most novice events are twards the beginning of the year.
Last edited by at your pleasure on Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:33 am

The Laughing Man wrote:I think that the best introduction to quizbowl would be an mACF distribution tournament with a really tiny answer space
This is a really great idea. Why? Because it does what A sets purport to do, ie introduce people to quiz bowl with out scaring them away, without all the obvious problems of A sets, eg bizzaro distribution. If this could become an annual thing, like EFT or ACF Fall is to the college circuit, this could greatly expand good quiz bowl's scope and following.

In reference to the original topic, A sets are, as I see it, appropriate, in name, for new teams. If you back out the writing problems (poorly placed clues and whatnot), they do basically what they are supposed to do: give new teams and/or players relatively easy, non-scary questions that hopefully whet their appetite for academic competition. Granted, the writing problems are myriad, but, with proper application of labor, those can hopefully be fixed. If HAVOC taught us anything, it is that it is possible to write a very accessible tournament without sacrificing writing tenets. Why is it not possible for NAQT, an organization with far greater resources than Maggie Walker, to do the same?

Also, Mr. Chrzanowski:
Caesar Rodney HS wrote:geniuses that go to Charter or Hunter or Gonzaga... how would you introduce it to curious public high school players who don't have any superstud seniors to guide them?
Could you please stop propagating this fallacy? Some of the smartest people I have ever met go to public high schools with no magnet program, some of which are in decidedly non-affluent areas of town, while some of the dumbest people I know go to my academically challenging private school. Just because one goes to a school with selective admission does not mean that they are automatically smart. Also, seniors who are good at quiz bowl are not a prerequisite for having the capability to improve or succeed. Thank you.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Sir Thopas » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:34 am

And I've admitted several times over that I shouldn't have gone to that A-level tournament and never will ever again.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:54 am

My Frosh/Soph Team recently played a tournament that used NAQT A-Set Tossups, and it worked well. There were a lot of tossups that I knew right away based on straightforward clues, that were transparent, or that I would have negged on because I wrongly thought they were transparent at first. However, I wasn't the one playing, and the sophomores who were playing generally didn't know much from the first halves of tossups. There were a lot of academic clues that my team did not recognize, so it was good that my team heard them.

I am not saying at all that novice teams should play and/or practice exclusively on these questions. However, these questions do serve a positive purpose--they are much better than no questions or than questions coming from many of the question vendors out there.

Also, while the answer space includes an occasional difficult work, that is the exception rather than the rule. The Frosh/Soph Tournament I was at had high conversion rates.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Sir Thopas » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:58 am

Shcool wrote:There were a lot of academic clues
This is a lie.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:03 am

Sir Thopas wrote:
Shcool wrote:There were a lot of academic clues
This is a lie.
"A lot" is a relative term. Right now, Mr. Reinstein is comparing the amount of academic clues to the amount at the average TRASH tournament.

Building off of my admittedly fatous comment, tournaments that are "easy" or "intoductory" should be precise mirrors of more difficult tournaments. Basically, the distribution should be exactly the same and the clue style should be exactly the same. This way, when newer players go to tournaments that use "normal" questions, there are not shocked at the abundance of art or non-dumb giveaways.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:07 am

Shcool wrote:I am not saying at all that novice teams should play and/or practice exclusively on these questions. However, these questions do serve a positive purpose--they are much better than no questions or than questions coming from many of the question vendors out there.
And presumably you could say the very same thing about a question vendor whose quality falls short of NAQT A-sets. Are they better than not playing quizbowl? Sure. Are they better than the questions of some other vendor? Yes. Essentially your statement damns only the very worst question set possible, one that is not better than questions coming from any other vendors.

I say that there ought to be a set standard for what makes a set "good" or "appropriate," and that having such a standard is particularly important when you're determining what is "good" or "appropriate" for new teams.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:28 am

everyday847 wrote:
Shcool wrote:I am not saying at all that novice teams should play and/or practice exclusively on these questions. However, these questions do serve a positive purpose--they are much better than no questions or than questions coming from many of the question vendors out there.
And presumably you could say the very same thing about a question vendor whose quality falls short of NAQT A-sets. Are they better than not playing quizbowl? Sure. Are they better than the questions of some other vendor? Yes. Essentially your statement damns only the very worst question set possible, one that is not better than questions coming from any other vendors.

I say that there ought to be a set standard for what makes a set "good" or "appropriate," and that having such a standard is particularly important when you're determining what is "good" or "appropriate" for new teams.
If you compare A Sets to the questions used at average or below average tournaments in Illinois, A Sets are much better. I fully realize that they have serious flaws, including what has already been said about too much trash or semi-trash in the distribution and too many questions that had misplaced clues, and I hope something becomes of people talking about writing an easy academic pyramidal tournament besides one occurrence of HAVOC, but this is what we have right now. If there were several sets out there that were better than A Sets, then we could talk about how to encourage more novice teams to take advantage of them. Hopefully, that's a problem we'll have next year.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:45 am

Shcool wrote:If you compare A Sets to the questions used at average or below average tournaments in Illinois, A Sets are much better. I fully realize that they have serious flaws, including what has already been said about too much trash or semi-trash in the distribution and too many questions that had misplaced clues, and I hope something becomes of people talking about writing an easy academic pyramidal tournament besides one occurrence of HAVOC, but this is what we have right now. If there were several sets out there that were better than A Sets, then we could talk about how to encourage more novice teams to take advantage of them. Hopefully, that's a problem we'll have next year.
I think we have a conflict here that's mostly semantic. I say that A-sets are not "appropriate" or "good" for new teams if you set a fixed standard for what it means is "appropriate" or "good." You say that they're the best we have. While I don't concede your assertion, suppose it is true. I don't think that we must necessarily call the best product we have "good." Otherwise we would have to explain why we adopt new standards for what counts as "good" every time difficulty increases; moreover, it discourages the production of these other sets, like HAVOC, since saying that what we have is good enough breeds complacency.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by at your pleasure » Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:57 pm

I hope something becomes of people talking about writing an easy academic pyramidal tournament besides one occurrence of HAVOC, but this is what we have right now.
In that case, why not mirror HAVOC? I very much doubt new teams will drive to Richmond.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by intothenegs » Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:53 pm

Shcool wrote: I hope something becomes of people talking about writing an easy academic pyramidal tournament besides one occurrence of HAVOC, but this is what we have right now. If there were several sets out there that were better than A Sets, then we could talk about how to encourage more novice teams to take advantage of them. Hopefully, that's a problem we'll have next year.
I'd contribute to a hypothetical novice set if it happens.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:05 pm

intothenegs wrote:
Shcool wrote: I hope something becomes of people talking about writing an easy academic pyramidal tournament besides one occurrence of HAVOC, but this is what we have right now. If there were several sets out there that were better than A Sets, then we could talk about how to encourage more novice teams to take advantage of them. Hopefully, that's a problem we'll have next year.
I'd contribute to a hypothetical novice set if it happens.
As would I, since I'd love to see something like this happen in the fall. The spring was just the only time we were able to run HAVOC, as it will be this year. Also, while this is unofficial since I need to speak to Cameron and Dr. Barnes, I would not be opposed to mirroring HAVOC across the country, since we're doing our best to ensure that it happens this year. I don't know what's typically done at the high school level, but if some potential mirror sites would also be interested in contributing questions, that would be awesome. Again, I need to talk to Cameron and Dr. B. before I can say anything officially, and we still need to hammer out a date.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by the return of AHAN » Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:39 pm

Sarah,
Any objection to me using some of last year's HAVOC questions with middle schoolers at an upcoming packet submission quad meet? I'd be editing out a few answers inaccessible to 6th graders and inserting some comp. math to match IESA guidelines, but these look like good practice at pyramidal questions for the Northwestern University Junior Wildcat in 2 months.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by cdcarter » Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:27 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote: As would I, since I'd love to see something like this happen in the fall. The spring was just the only time we were able to run HAVOC, as it will be this year. Also, while this is unofficial since I need to speak to Cameron and Dr. Barnes, I would not be opposed to mirroring HAVOC across the country, since we're doing our best to ensure that it happens this year. I don't know what's typically done at the high school level, but if some potential mirror sites would also be interested in contributing questions, that would be awesome. Again, I need to talk to Cameron and Dr. B. before I can say anything officially, and we still need to hammer out a date.
Sarah, if HAVOC happens again, I would be very willing to help contribute some questions for it.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:40 pm

cdcarter wrote:
MLWGS-Gir wrote: As would I, since I'd love to see something like this happen in the fall. The spring was just the only time we were able to run HAVOC, as it will be this year. Also, while this is unofficial since I need to speak to Cameron and Dr. Barnes, I would not be opposed to mirroring HAVOC across the country, since we're doing our best to ensure that it happens this year. I don't know what's typically done at the high school level, but if some potential mirror sites would also be interested in contributing questions, that would be awesome. Again, I need to talk to Cameron and Dr. B. before I can say anything officially, and we still need to hammer out a date.
Sarah, if HAVOC happens again, I would be very willing to help contribute some questions for it.
Thank you, Chris. Hopefully I'll be able to email you some details after I speak to Cameron tomorrow.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by ihavenoidea » Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:26 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote:
cdcarter wrote:
MLWGS-Gir wrote: As would I, since I'd love to see something like this happen in the fall. The spring was just the only time we were able to run HAVOC, as it will be this year. Also, while this is unofficial since I need to speak to Cameron and Dr. Barnes, I would not be opposed to mirroring HAVOC across the country, since we're doing our best to ensure that it happens this year. I don't know what's typically done at the high school level, but if some potential mirror sites would also be interested in contributing questions, that would be awesome. Again, I need to talk to Cameron and Dr. B. before I can say anything officially, and we still need to hammer out a date.
Sarah, if HAVOC happens again, I would be very willing to help contribute some questions for it.
Thank you, Chris. Hopefully I'll be able to email you some details after I speak to Cameron tomorrow.
Sarah, as would I.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by The Laughing Man » Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:14 am

ihavenoidea wrote:
MLWGS-Gir wrote:
cdcarter wrote:
MLWGS-Gir wrote: As would I, since I'd love to see something like this happen in the fall. The spring was just the only time we were able to run HAVOC, as it will be this year. Also, while this is unofficial since I need to speak to Cameron and Dr. Barnes, I would not be opposed to mirroring HAVOC across the country, since we're doing our best to ensure that it happens this year. I don't know what's typically done at the high school level, but if some potential mirror sites would also be interested in contributing questions, that would be awesome. Again, I need to talk to Cameron and Dr. B. before I can say anything officially, and we still need to hammer out a date.
Sarah, if HAVOC happens again, I would be very willing to help contribute some questions for it.
Thank you, Chris. Hopefully I'll be able to email you some details after I speak to Cameron tomorrow.
Sarah, as would I.
I'd also be willing to contribute.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:31 pm

Anti-Climacus wrote:
If so many people complain about A Sets, why do so many teams still show up to play them (even the Gonzagas and Charters and Hunters and Walt Whitmans of the circuit)?
Because half the tournaments NAQT runs are on A-sets. Even in college, when intro-level questions are of far higher quality, most novice events are twards the beginning of the year.
I wanted to point out this post for a couple reasons.

1) It was changed from its original meaning (some time later) where the poster said "we still needed to qualify for HSNCT." Blah blah editing blah blah...

2) If NAQT readily admits to, and we at least somewhat agree, that A-Sets are intended for younger players or inexperienced players, why do the same rules apply for qualification to its national tournament? Does this mean that if an A-Set tournament was held with its actual purpose of only having sophomore and freshmen teams (as Culver does), that they would still qualify the top 15% of teams for the HSNCT as well? This hardly seems fair. Perhaps we should lobby for these tournaments to qualify no teams at all for anything... after all they are just supposed to be an "introduction." Then perhaps you wouldn't have teams like Walt Whitman coming to them "just to qualify."
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Sir Thopas » Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:44 am

I'm going to attempt to answer the question posed by you in the other thread over here, because it's more appropriate here.

I think there are a couple of reasons elite teams go to A-level tournaments:
1) Wanting to play any tournament anywhere just because it's quizbowl. Especially in high school, this isn't always the best idea, since bad high school teams often take losing game after game by 600 pretty badly.
2) Bringing a few teams to a tournament, and wanting to see how your younger teams do. This is probably the best rationalization I can give for playing at LIFT; in my mind, it wasn't a good one. However, I suppose it should also be pointed out that Kellenberg wanted (and originally advertised the tournament as) an IS-level set, and couldn't get one because there weren't any left in the area. This disappoints me, especially because of the odd preponderance of A-level sets. This has been brought up many times before, but it seems to me wholly unnecessary to have just as many introductory sets as regular sets. Sometimes, as here, it can be destructive. (Note that I'm not blaming NAQT for going to LIFT. That mistake was mine.)
3) Easy HSNCT qualification. This is easily avoided, as already discussed.
4) A good field, also as already discussed. In this case, NAQT should be ashamed of marketing an introductory set to where it's obviously not needed, and to continue to do so is inconsistent with their stated purpose of A-sets.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:48 am

Sir Thopas wrote:I'm going to attempt to answer the question posed by you in the other thread over here, because it's more appropriate here.

I think there are a couple of reasons elite teams go to A-level tournaments:
1) Wanting to play any tournament anywhere just because it's quizbowl. Especially in high school, this isn't always the best idea, since bad high school teams often take losing game after game by 600 pretty badly.
2) Bringing a few teams to a tournament, and wanting to see how your younger teams do. This is probably the best rationalization I can give for playing at LIFT; in my mind, it wasn't a good one. However, I suppose it should also be pointed out that Kellenberg wanted (and originally advertised the tournament as) an IS-level set, and couldn't get one because there weren't any left in the area. This disappoints me, especially because of the odd preponderance of A-level sets. This has been brought up many times before, but it seems to me wholly unnecessary to have just as many introductory sets as regular sets. Sometimes, as here, it can be destructive. (Note that I'm not blaming NAQT for going to LIFT. That mistake was mine.)
3) Easy HSNCT qualification. This is easily avoided, as already discussed.
4) A good field, also as already discussed. In this case, NAQT should be ashamed of marketing an introductory set to where it's obviously not needed, and to continue to do so is inconsistent with their stated purpose of A-sets.
1) True, and i can readily admit that at CR we do this. We just want to play as much as possible, and even my C and D teams who get pummeled in more than 50% of their matches still enjoy playing. Whitman attends a lot of tournaments as well, but usually just brings a few guys.
2) Whitman brought just one team, of four players (they often have just three). So... doesn't apply here.
3) Yep, it was.
4) The field wasn't bad, but it sure wasn't that good. Four teams in the top 25 of the country, again, isn't bad... but considering we went to a competition earlier this year with at least 7 of the top 10 attending, it's certainly not the same. You're right about the marketing though.

Again, i reiterate, really there shouldn't be any qualification from these sets if they are intended as introductions. See their website: "These are the questions used by high school tournaments early in the year that are aimed at younger players with comparatively little tournament experience. They provide for an introduction to the game and its subject matter without being overwhelmingly difficult."
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Gonzagapuma1 » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:02 pm

I'm not sure if Gonzaga is really an "elite" team or whatever, but I can tell you that we went because I'm trying to stay in the good graces of my coach because he's mad that I'm in Gonzaga's spring musical.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:15 pm

Haha, you sing your heart out, Dan. It's not like you're not going to study anything if you miss your team practices. Good luck to you in that.

Anyway, still... point remains: if these are "introduction" packets, how can they qualify as "bona fide" tournaments with full qualification status, etc.? Again, i'm actually NOT making the argument that there should be no A-sets, or that there should even be FEWER A-Sets... to the contrary, the sets may not be that great but i like the idea of them, a lot. They need to be improved, not eliminated. I'm arguing that they should be taken for exactly what NAQT says they are... as an "introduction to the game" and little more than that, i.e. not to be played by "elite" teams or honestly even teams with moderate experience. Good for the beginning of the year (the only time that all teams should be "allowed" to play on them), good for freshmen/sophomore/first/second-year players at any point in the year, good for practice on occasion for said beginning players... that's all.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:22 pm

How many writers does NAQT exactly have? There does seem to be an abnormally large supply of A-sets in my neck of the woods, as we have only attended one IS set tourney this year. [So, hey, maybe we do need A sets to qualify.] Would it be unreasonable to ask NAQT to write more IS sets if they continue to produce this many A's, or at least find a way to distribute more evenly?
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:04 pm

Johannes Climacus wrote:How many writers does NAQT exactly have? There does seem to be an abnormally large supply of A-sets in my neck of the woods, as we have only attended one IS set tourney this year. [So, hey, maybe we do need A sets to qualify.] Would it be unreasonable to ask NAQT to write more IS sets if they continue to produce this many A's, or at least find a way to distribute more evenly?
I wanted to answer the first question here, as it touches on one of the central assumptions of a lot of the current debate about NAQT (i.e. that the organization has massive human resources to draw on). There are maybe 150 people who have been assigned writer numbers over the course of NAQT's existence, but that figure doesn't come close to capturing the number of current writers working for NAQT. (A bunch of people who used to write for NAQT have retired from quizbowl, or have stopped writing NAQT questions, or have never been especially productive.) To get a rough sense of how many people are actively contributing to NAQT, I crunched some numbers on two recent IS sets.

IS-77 featured questions by 55 different writers. However, 33 of those writers contributed 5 or fewer questions to the set, and 23 of those writers were represented in the set by only 1 or 2 questions. By contrast, the top four writers combined to write 382 questions, or 53% of the set.

IS-79 featured questions by 47 different writers. However, 25 of those writers contributed 5 or fewer questions to the set, and 14 of those writers were represented in the set by only 1 or 2 questions. By contrast, the top four writers combined to write 415 questions, or 58% of the set.

I think those statistics are a pretty accurate reflection of the current state of NAQT writing. That is, while there are ostensibly a huge number of contributors, the number of people making significant contributions is much, much smaller, which means that the lion's share of the work is falling on the shoulders of only a few people. I'm not saying this to excuse the low quality of any NAQT set, and I don't want to draw the debate over "whether high school players should write for NAQT" into this thread; I just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to make that point about the actual question writing resources of the organization.

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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:30 am

Thanks for the info, Andrew. The follow up I have is whether the four or five top workhorses on each set tend to be the same people each time, which would mean that the number of reliable NAQT writers is very small, or tend to be different people each time, which would mean that the number of reliable NAQT writers actually is decent.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:13 am

Three of the top four were the same for both IS-77 and IS-79. Also, a quick check tells me that those same three were in the top four of production for IS-76 (a set in which the top four writers produced 52% of the total questions).

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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by STPickrell » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:45 am

It seems rather incongruous on first glance to be saying 'NAQT should be producing more and better IS sets' and then saying 'I won't write for NAQT.' NAQT is nothing more than the sum of its writers and editors.

If NAQT's output is dominated by 6-8 'plodders' a year, I'm not really sure how much you can expect NAQT to increase/improve their output without the addition of new blood. I'll mark myself as a plodder here -- although I have never been especially productive for NAQT, my question output for VHSL probably rivals that of NAQT's more productive writers.

I have asked NAQT if they could edit VHSL work in exchange for dumping VHSL work into their database and a cut of the profits, but they had begged off this. Likewise for 2008-09 they did not reply to my requests to have them format their IS questions into the VHSL format.

It seems there exist four strains of question quality.

TV sets: Short, 2-3 clues, written for TV shows. Of course they're bad questions, but they pay the bills. We'd rather have people cognizant of modern quizbowl writing these sets than people who are not, so the production of high-end sets might get properly funded (likewise, some of the less talented writers can be put to good use here.)
Novice/A sets: Medium-length, hopefully longer than TV sets, but time constraints prevent this from happening. If there were enough 'new blood' in NAQT's ranks, I'm sure the plodders could make these questions better while the 'new blood' (that is presumably better) focuses on IS sets and high-end sets.
IS sets: The staple currency of the realm. While top teams will have several buzzer races in the lead-ins, they will at least be somewhat challenged on these. Presumably the new blood would focus on these questions.
High-end sets: The ideal for nationally competitive programs, and for the top 15-20 teams from most any state. Can be made usable for any audience by simplifying the answer space (e.g. HAVOC). Potentially offputting to new teams but I believe this effect is overstated by NAQT. Better for college novices.

Can one question house produce all four of these strains? Is the fourth so separate from the other three that asking NAQT to produce high-end sets is like asking a dog in a tuxedo to go to Harvard?

I think the main reason NAQT hasn't produced high-end sets is time -- it taking a minute or two to write an OK TV question, 5-8 minutes to write an A question, 8-10 for an IS question, and 12-15 for a High-end question. (Ditto for bonuses, for a novice/A set you can always put in two fairly easy parts.)

If NAQT expressly concedes the high-end set production to HSAPQ, and tries to introduce high-end principles to the HSNCT, would that be more acceptable?

HSAPQ is attempting to produce high-end sets en masse. I wish them luck, and am negotiating with them to produce VHSL sets for 2009-10.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by evilmonkey » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:51 pm

I think the problem of "too many A-sets" would be solved simply by changing the ratio to 5-3 or 6-2, as I believe was mentioned elsewhere in this thread (but I can't find at the moment). Would someone from NAQT care to comment on whether this might be an option, and what factors might prevent this from occurring? I can't think of a reason - 3 introductory sets for a year seems more than enough. Another possibility is the 2-4-2 option previously mentioned - 2 A-sets, 4 IS sets, 2 Nationals Prep sets. Actually, 1 specifically designated Nationals prep set might be enough, since the DII SCT was used for this purpose last year, and would provide the second. So a 3-4-1-SCT might be a reasonable model.
Caesar Rodney HS wrote: Anyway, still... point remains: if these are "introduction" packets, how can they qualify as "bona fide" tournaments with full qualification status, etc.?...
I also think that Caesar Rodney Guy makes an excellent point here - if these sets aren't supposed to be played by elite players, then they shouldn't be given the same weight for qualification, since the fields that *should* be playing them don't include the stronger teams.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:38 pm

evilmonkey wrote:
Caesar Rodney HS wrote: Anyway, still... point remains: if these are "introduction" packets, how can they qualify as "bona fide" tournaments with full qualification status, etc.?...
I also think that Caesar Rodney Guy makes an excellent point here - if these sets aren't supposed to be played by elite players, then they shouldn't be given the same weight for qualification, since the fields that *should* be playing them don't include the stronger teams.
Thank you for not ignoring the most important point that i tried to make that had, until now, been unmentioned. It makes no sense to me why this is the way it is. It seems totally contrary to what NAQT says its own A-Sets are even for.
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:55 pm

STPickrell wrote:It seems rather incongruous on first glance to be saying 'NAQT should be producing more and better IS sets' and then saying 'I won't write for NAQT.' NAQT is nothing more than the sum of its writers and editors.
It seems to me that this is a misrepresentation of what people have said. I rather hear people saying: "NAQT should be producing more and better IS sets, but I have no faith that my writing for NAQT would contribute toward that end."
While I don't entirely buy that argument, I can't entirely write it off, either: after all, NAQT does allocate significant resources toward ends like writing a ton of speed check questions, so the priority for improving IS sets can't be that high (else the same resources would be allocated toward that end.) I'd say that this doubt regarding NAQT's intentions is perhaps the major reason, along with the opacity of the standards for and occasionally sub-par quality of NAQT's writing, that more people aren't writing for NAQT.
To take up my own example, I would prefer to work for, say, PACE or ACF because I understand their ends and motives and am therefore confident of my work's being used in the most effective way to effect a vision of the game that I agree with. Regardless of how much benefit of doubt I grant NAQT, the transparent organizations will always win out in this case because doubt must remain about NAQT's priorities, intentions, etc. That is, I cannot grant NAQT the value of certainty because I don't understand NAQT's priorities or standards very well. In light of that and the facts that I see NAQT doing things that I don't necessarily agree and occasionally producing questions below my standards, I don't see how I can be other than left with some doubts on important issues with evidence that argues for the negative view.
Consequently, I wish someone authoritative would post regarding this one way or another, either in this thread or in Guy's thread about motivations for writing. For example, I think authoritative answers are called for to the following questions:
How great a priority is it for NAQT to increase its level of question quality in IS sets and how great to increase the number of such sets?
Given that level of priority, why are resources devoted to producing things like speedcheck sets and A-level sets?
Is it definitively acceptable for a writer to write only for a certain level, say for IS sets?
If NAQT received a large number of good questions from writers wishing to write only for a certain level, would it increase production levels and standards at that level?
How can someone entertaining the sincere doubts expressed in this and the "High School Writers" threads credit the answers given? What assurances can NAQT give?

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Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
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Brian Ulrich
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Re: Are IS-A sets appropriate for new teams?

Post by Brian Ulrich » Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:11 pm

Captain Scipio wrote:Consequently, I wish someone authoritative would post regarding this one way or another, either in this thread or in Guy's thread about motivations for writing.
I'm not authoritative like you're looking for, but perhaps can contribute a bit.
Captain Scipio wrote:How great a priority is it for NAQT to increase its level of question quality in IS sets and how great to increase the number of such sets?
Given that level of priority, why are resources devoted to producing things like speedcheck sets and A-level sets?
I have no idea whether NAQT is keen to increase IS quantity, though quality is always a concern. As far as the other uses of resources, though, I think you're missing the other end of things. As I noted on the other end, NAQT produces questions for TV shows that air in a few limited markets. These competitions are usually not as prestigious among quiz bowlers, but they are the highest levels of exposure academic competition receives and hopefully create a groundswell of support that could be used to support local hs programs. NAQT introduced the Speed Check sets later as practice material, and I got the distinct impression this was just a case of realizing they got get more mileage out of questions already written. In other words, no one is writing and subject editing just for Speed Check sets, and only minimal set editing is involved.

Let's also not forget that several years ago, in 2000-2, at least, NAQT's biggest problem was that it was satisfying the market for upper end high school questions, but receiving numerous complaints that its questions were too hard for most teams. One option was to make its existing questions easier, and I remember techniques to get writers to write easy questions such as paying extra for commonly used answers such as George Washington, Benito Mussolini, etc. After a couple of years, it instead decided to try two different high school set levels, and the A-series was born.
Captain Scipio wrote:Is it definitively acceptable for a writer to write only for a certain level, say for IS sets?
This one I'm sure of - the answer is yes. You'd still get the e-mails about the others, and if things were tight R might lurk around and ask for a bit of help, but there is no compulsion for writers in NAQT.
Captain Scipio wrote:How can someone entertaining the sincere doubts expressed in this and the "High School Writers" threads credit the answers given? What assurances can NAQT give?
I'm sure I can't give whatever it is, but what types of assurances did you have in mind?
Brian Ulrich
NAQT Current Events Editor, 2005-
University of Wisconsin 1999-2003
Quincy University 1995-1999

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