2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

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Quinctilius Varus
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2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Quinctilius Varus »

This is the thread for general comments about 2020 ACF Winter. I am ecstatic more than 170 teams played the set! The goal was to have a mix of standard and creative content at a difficulty halfway between ACF Fall and ACF Regionals.

Here is the category breakdown:
Ganon Evans: World History, Other Fine Arts, Geo/CE/Pop Culture/Misc.
Nick Jensen: American History, Chemistry, Religion, Social Science
Vishwa Shanmugam: Biology, Other Science, Mythology
Bryanna Shao: British, European, and World/Other Literature
Chris Sims: Classical Music and Philosophy
Jaskaran Singh: European and Ancient/Misc. History
Andrew Wang: Physics
Chandler West: American Literature, Painting/Sculpture

I am thrilled to have worked with this group of editors, who are all incredibly knowledgeable and contributed lots of interesting and creative ideas to their categories. Ganon brought his unparalleled enthusiasm to the set, and it seemed like teams really enjoyed the wide range of content that appeared in his categories. Nick put an incredible amount of effort in both his own thoroughly-researched questions and in reviewing the set as a whole, which greatly benefitted from his input. Vishwa edited a bunch of creative ideas that made his categories interesting to play, and it was a relief knowing I could trust him to produce high-quality questions in categories I know little about. Despite being relatively new to editing, Bryanna almost single-handedly wrote and edited the non-American lit, which required little feedback and consistently hit their difficulty target - essentially all you can ask for from an editor. I feel similarly about Chris, whose classical music and philosophy questions proved to be a mix of solidly-written core content and creative ideas. Jaskaran was incredibly efficient in editing questions, and found many interesting clues from across political, military, and social history. Andrew brought his expertise to the physics distribution and the science as a whole, with his questions achieving the rare feat of being both clear and concise. Chandler was very active and helpful throughout the production of the set, and worked hard to make sure his categories were evenly distributed and had lots of cool ideas. Please thank them if you liked any questions in their categories or the categories as a whole.

A big thank you also goes to everyone in ACF who helped make this set possible and answered my many questions. Ophir Lifshitz put in an incredible amount of work into proofreading, adding pronunciation guides, and ensuring the packets were ready to be sent out. All of the playtesters gave detailed and thorough feedback that significantly improved the set; I would especially like to shout out Mike Bentley and Erik Christensen for helping during most of the sessions. Thanks also goes to Editor-in-Chief Matt Bollinger for his advice and help with looking over the set. JinAh Kim, Alex Damisch, and Jordan Brownstein also lent their skills to proofreading. Margaret Tebbe put an astounding amount of work in coordinating sites and communicating with hosts - the mirrors could not have happened without her.

And of course, thanks to every team who hosted and played Winter! Despite the challenges that come with hosting and playing tournaments online, I hope people had a good time. Any general discussion about the set is welcome in this thread.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by reindeer »

I'm happy to see the return of ACF Winter and I thought this set was successful in a lot of ways. In particular it seemed like there was real attention paid to highlighting women, BIPOC, and other people who are often underrepresented in quizbowl, which is great! I also thought this set did well at keeping more experienced teams engaged while also being accessible enough for less experienced ones.

My main concern with the set involved its answerlines, many of which were long and complex but did not address answers that a knowledgeable player might reasonably give. Often the answerline listed a lot of synonyms & related terms to the main answer, but didn't take the important step of considering the clues from the perspective of a player who hasn't seen the answerline and needs to formulate a response from scratch.
For example, in games I read, players gave answers of "alternative medicine" for bonus A.15.1, "solar storms" for tossup C.2, and "malfunctioning proteins" early in tossup L.15. I'm not really in a position to judge whether any or all of these answers are acceptable, but they all seem like reasonable responses that could be anticipated and proactively addressed in the answerline. That last example led to a protest that ended up deciding the outcome of the finals game, so certainly this problem has immediate implications for gameplay.

I also want to raise a couple of other answerline issues, largely unrelated to this main one but still notable:

-I don't love "Aunt Flow" as an acceptable answer for bonus G.9.1 (and isn't it normally spelled Aunt Flo?) but I really don't like "that time of month". This term in particular carries strong implications that menstruation shouldn't be explicitly named or discussed, which (1) we shouldn't perpetuate and (2) is directly contradicted by the fact that it's the actual answer to this question. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to come up with something more direct than "time of month" here.

-To my eyes the six answers to bonus G.6.2 (Crow, Apsáalooke, Ashkúale, Eelalapito, Ammitaalasshé, and Binnéessiippeele) seem pretty distinct, but the answerline says to accept them "or any similar answers". How is the moderator supposed to judge if an answer is "similar"?

On the whole, though, like I said, I thought this was a good set! Other than wanting a little more guidance from the answerlines, I really enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to future iterations of both ACF Winter itself and other sets from these writers & editors.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

I greatly enjoyed editing the American Lit and Painting/Sculpture for this set. I plan on making a post about some of the differences between editing for a housewrite/set that doesn't utilize packet sub vs. one that does (so potential editors can evaluate which might be a better fit for them), but that will probably have to wait a few weeks.

I want to thank William for his kind words and make it publicly known that he also put a ton of work into the set, giving lots of great feedback and being very on the ball about everything! He's also just a kind person and has lots of cool interests to talk about. I enjoyed working with everyone on this set, but want to give a special shoutout to Nick Jensen, who was the MVP of this set (imo). Not only did Nick edit the most out of everyone, he also almost certainly wrote the most questions outside of his categories (including many great ideas in my categories!), seemingly left comments in basically every category (content-wise), and ALWAYS let you know how to improve the structure of your sentences, which almost certainly made the set's prose flow smoother (and did a lot of last minute work with packetizing and stuff). So, shoutout to Nick. He also has a seemingly endless library of things he learned from podcasts, read, or watched.

As far as my categories go, my general approach for the painting/sculpture was to do a tuned-down version of what I did with MWT, which involved trying to award lots of engagement with paintings other than just looking at them, so lots of "art history"-type clues. Hopefully this succeeded, I do wish I had a scholarly clue or two more but I think there were still a lot of non-visual clues. I've been told my bonuses were on the easy side, so I guess I could have been a bit tougher there, but I'm overall okay with the difficulty of the set (seems to me that sets rarely undershoot these days so even if we did that I think it's ok).

For American Lit, I think I took a very "safe" approach. This was my first time writing >5 lit questions for a set, so I would really appreciate feedback/thoughts! I only had 1 common link tu, so I hope that wasn't too boring for more experienced/talented players, but I thought some of my leadins were interesting at least. My main 2 goals here were 1: stay accessible and 2: ask about as many authors that aren't straight white men as possible without hurting goal 1. I hope this was noticeable, and particularly enjoyed writing the bonuses themed around rap music in literature (rap/The Hate U Give/Citizen) and racial passing (Passing by Larsen/Chopin/autobio).

Also, a thing that I hope to do but can't get to right now is single out some truly excellent submissions from some lesser-known writers, since these people really deserve a shoutout. Maybe some other editors can do this as well.

Finally, if you want feedback on American Lit or painting submissions (I can also give feedback on some other categories I suppose, like the rest of lit if you want, though i only edited those 2 categories), let me know and I'll get back to you sometime next week. I'm best reachable by facebook and discord PM, but if you want to PM me through this forum or email me I'll get back to you eventually.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by It's Drew »

This was one of my favorite sets I've ever played. I think the editing team did a great job hitting target difficulty and doing so consistently. I thought the content was fun and pretty fresh throughout.

The only real criticism I have is that there were a few bonus parts throughout the day that should have indicated they wanted a description. The example I remember is the astronomy bonus whose first answer was apparently "neutral hydrogen." I knew that the clues indicated specifically pointed to neutral hydrogen, but I second-guessed it because I assumed the question was looking for a named isotope. I'm not sure why the question couldn't just look for "hydrogen with this property" (neutrality) or "neutrally charged atoms of this element" (hydrogen), both of which are much easier to produce and test the same knowledge.

However, I want to stress that that was my only complaint about the packet, and that my overall experience was highly positive. It's great to have more options for tournaments at this difficulty level to help bridge the gap between Fall and Regs.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by caroline »

Zealots of Stockholm wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:36 pm the bonuses themed around rap music in literature (rap/The Hate U Give/Citizen)
This was my favorite question in the set by a mile (made me glad I agreed to playing the packet even after 9 very long and tiring games, tbh) and I really like how it asked about YA novel The Hate U Give in a way that emphasized its importance and significance. Not a book I thought I'd ever see come up in college quizbowl, but I'm glad it did. <3

Like others have noted, I was very impressed by this set's efforts in representing women and people of color. I thought a lot of the categories did a good job of representing more world content while still remaining accessible. I also particularly liked the diaspora lit content and thought the contemporary lit clues were well-selected (I was a fan of the lead-in mentioning American Dirt in the Steinbeck TU, as that book's been getting a lot of important and controversial discussion this year).

Other questions I liked: the bonus asking for Lowell and Bishop; the part on The Testaments; the Herta Muller bonus; the previously mentioned Passing/Chopin/autobiography bonus; the Italian tossup cluing from Jhumpa Lahiri; the Twilight tossup (yes, really); the bonus on female authors from Argentina; the Puerto Rico/Cuba/Williams bonus; the London/Smith/Rushdie bonus; the Chaucer tossup cluing heavily from his women characters.

Overall, I thought this set did an excellent job in terms of difficulty, striking a good balance between deep content on core works and more upper-level canon content. The bonuses felt a bit easier than tossups, though not significantly, and I found them very accessible and appreciated that hard parts were reined in to remain reasonable.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

This tournament was very good and probably even slightly undershot expected difficulty, at least in the bonuses - the tossups seemed generally on point overall. In particular questions did a good job giving lots of useful contextual information to make buzzes, so it was pretty rare you'd be confused about what was going on. Questions were generally "fun" and "fresh" as well - it's hard to articulate precisely what I mean by that, but they were engaging to listen to and didn't seem to be treading excessively on old ground.

I particularly appreciated this tournament's selection of topics that strike me as more confined to harder difficulties, but which are almost certainly fine to ask about at this level - Russo-Ottoman wars, a broad selection of geography topics, folk songs, Thomas Kuhn, the mother goddess archetype, a wider range of computer science topics (the tossup on "packets" was delightful), the Mississippian culture, etc. These aren't particularly ground-breaking but I think they're plenty appropriate here.

Insofar as I'd give a broad critique, it would probably be for a mild amount of cross-category difficulty inconsistency, which is probably an outcome of this tournament having a lot of cooks in the kitchen. I also think some of the bonuses could have benefitted from having extra information cut from them - this stuff is often interesting to listen to, but reasonable brevity keeps the tournament flowing, which is particularly important for online events.

I think a few of the attempts to be clever fell a bit flat: the philosophy tossup on "space" and social science tossup on "transport" were interesting ideas but seemed to be a bit vague as to what scope of answer they were going for, which made them somewhat confusing to play; the cluing of second sound for sound makes sense as a way to work that in, but the pronoun "these objects" made it pretty confusing.

Overall, this was a highly successful revival of ACF Winter and I look forward to more excellent events from ACF this season.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

caroline wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 12:33 am
Zealots of Stockholm wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:36 pm the bonuses themed around rap music in literature (rap/The Hate U Give/Citizen)
This was my favorite question in the set by a mile (made me glad I agreed to playing the packet even after 9 very long and tiring games, tbh) and I really like how it asked about YA novel The Hate U Give in a way that emphasized its importance and significance. Not a book I thought I'd ever see come up in college quizbowl, but I'm glad it did. <3
I generally wouldn't be a fan of YA lit coming up in college qb, but I thought this novel definitely had the importance (I read it in a lit class on the experience of Black girlhood in the US) to and I'm glad you enjoyed the bonus! Shoutout to William for letting this fly too.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by John Quincy Adams's Alligator »

reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm My main concern with the set involved its answerlines, many of which were long and complex but did not address answers that a knowledgeable player might reasonably give. Often the answerline listed a lot of synonyms & related terms to the main answer, but didn't take the important step of considering the clues from the perspective of a player who hasn't seen the answerline and needs to formulate a response from scratch.
For example, in games I read, players gave answers of "alternative medicine" for bonus A.15.1, "solar storms" for tossup C.2, and "malfunctioning proteins" early in tossup L.15. I'm not really in a position to judge whether any or all of these answers are acceptable, but they all seem like reasonable responses that could be anticipated and proactively addressed in the answerline. That last example led to a protest that ended up deciding the outcome of the finals game, so certainly this problem has immediate implications for gameplay.
Apologies for the latter two - both were oversights on my end that I definitely should have caught and fixed. (I think this also happened on the solar cell tossup, with the leadin allowing buzzes of "semiconductors.") I definitely should have paid a bit more attention to nailing down clues or anticipating how people would buzz, especially with some of the more complex/"out there" answerlines I wrote, and I'm especially sorry for its impact on the finals of a tournament.
It's Drew wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:49 pm The only real criticism I have is that there were a few bonus parts throughout the day that should have indicated they wanted a description. The example I remember is the astronomy bonus whose first answer was apparently "neutral hydrogen." I knew that the clues indicated specifically pointed to neutral hydrogen, but I second-guessed it because I assumed the question was looking for a named isotope. I'm not sure why the question couldn't just look for "hydrogen with this property" (neutrality) or "neutrally charged atoms of this element" (hydrogen), both of which are much easier to produce and test the same knowledge.
I agree "specific form" wasn't the best indicator, but I do think testing to know the importance of neutral hydrogen emissions is a difficulty appropriate hard part, and that "neutral hydrogen" is a very commonly used phrase/referrent in many astro sources I found while researching that part. Otoh, I think either "hydrogen" or "neutrality" given hydrogen might be very guessable and below the difficulty level expected at a winter hard part, which is why I wanted both parts to be in the answerline. I do symphathize with your complaint though -- looking back, I definitely could have been clearer with the indicator as to the scope of what I wanted, especially since the common quizbowl terminology might lead one to think I was referring to a single isotope (and as before I should have expanded the answerline to prompt on "protium" - my apologies there, if that's what happened!) However, I do think as you said the clues do all point towards neutral hydrogen, and being able to ascertain that the clues were specifically about neutral hydrogen is part of the knowledge I think made it a hard part, which either of the reduced answerlines would have removed.

On a more general note, I had a lot of fun editing categories I hadn't seriously edited before. I tried first and foremost to try and make content interesting and relevant to what people learn, both in classes and on their own time. With myth, I wanted to have clues that you could get from a variety of sources, rather than just reading myth source material - particularly because a big way people engage with myth is through its influence on modern media (both through things like literature and history and through stuff like video games and TV shows.) In particular, the two myth tossups in the editors packets I think were the most in line with what I mean here, though amusingly they were written (quite excellently!) by Chandler and Nick respectively. I also had a bunch of fun with the CS, hopefully highlighting some subfields I think deserve to come up more, such as networking, computer architecture, cyber security, and computer vision / graphics, while also rewarding engagement with & understanding of super core topics like data structures and algorithms. I had a lot of fun taking this approach to my categories, and hopefully players enjoyed as well!

Like with Chandler, if anyone wants feedback on their submissions in my categories (bio, osci, myth) please contact me and I'll try to get back to you asap!
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm My main concern with the set involved its answerlines, many of which were long and complex but did not address answers that a knowledgeable player might reasonably give. Often the answerline listed a lot of synonyms & related terms to the main answer, but didn't take the important step of considering the clues from the perspective of a player who hasn't seen the answerline and needs to formulate a response from scratch.
For example, in games I read, players gave answers of "alternative medicine" for bonus A.15.1, "solar storms" for tossup C.2, and "malfunctioning proteins" early in tossup L.15. I'm not really in a position to judge whether any or all of these answers are acceptable, but they all seem like reasonable responses that could be anticipated and proactively addressed in the answerline. That last example led to a protest that ended up deciding the outcome of the finals game, so certainly this problem has immediate implications for gameplay.
reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm -I don't love "Aunt Flow" as an acceptable answer for bonus G.9.1 (and isn't it normally spelled Aunt Flo?) but I really don't like "that time of month". This term in particular carries strong implications that menstruation shouldn't be explicitly named or discussed, which (1) we shouldn't perpetuate and (2) is directly contradicted by the fact that it's the actual answer to this question. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to come up with something more direct than "time of month" here.
I'm sorry that I didn't explicitly include "alternative medicine" in the answerline; it seemed obviously acceptable to me since the answerline included several very similar answers, and only "medicine" was underlined for each. However, I should have included it explicitly.

In general, though, these two criticisms seem somewhat contradictory. In the case of the menstruation bonus, I included euphemisms that I anticipated players would be likely to give. If I had not included them and a player had given such an answer, wouldn't the same situation arise as with the "alternative medicine" answer? I'm sorry that I gave you the impression of condoning shame about menstruation; that was not my intention.
reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm -To my eyes the six answers to bonus G.6.2 (Crow, Apsáalooke, Ashkúale, Eelalapito, Ammitaalasshé, and Binnéessiippeele) seem pretty distinct, but the answerline says to accept them "or any similar answers". How is the moderator supposed to judge if an answer is "similar"?
Originally, the answerline included every subgroup of the Crow people that I was aware of. To shorten the fairly long answerline, I cut some groups whose names were somewhat similar to those that I included (e.g. Ashalaho and Ashshipíte seemed similar enough to Ashkúale for a moderator to recognize a knowledgeable player's answer).

naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:08 am I think a few of the attempts to be clever fell a bit flat: the philosophy tossup on "space" and social science tossup on "transport" were interesting ideas but seemed to be a bit vague as to what scope of answer they were going for, which made them somewhat confusing to play; the cluing of second sound for sound makes sense as a way to work that in, but the pronoun "these objects" made it pretty confusing.
I'm sorry the transportation tossup was confusing. The answerline included several related topics such as traffic and freight, so hopefully other players who recognized the clues were able to buzz even if they weren't quite sure what the main answerline was.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by cwasims »

Much like Chandler, I had a great experience editing this tournament - William was a wonderful head editor, and I will echo Chandler's comments amount Nick's immense contributions to the set. This was one of my first times editing, and my first time at a level higher than novice difficulty, so this was generally a pretty new experience for me. I will say that I probably brought a somewhat different writing philosophy to my two main categories: I generally took a fairly "score-based" approach to the classical music with a major emphasis on very canonical pieces at the expense of more anecdotal clues and less core works, whereas in philosophy I probably ended up including a somewhat broader range of topics with an attempt to use relatively more common links as opposed to individual thinkers and texts in the tossups at least. I would agree that the bonuses probably ended up being easier than the tossups, but I personally don't think it's such a problem in that direction (the reverse would be worse from a gameplay perspective, I think).

I am more than happy to receive any comments you may have about the set or about your submissions either on the forums, on Discord, or at my email: [email protected]. If there is interest, I also created a Spotify playlist of (most of) the classical music clued in the set - I was a bit less familiar with Spotify's selection for the world music I clued, but all of the rest are I think well-regarded and in the relevant cases recorded by the musicians who were clued in the question. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Ei3K ... MFnQbYbw_A
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:08 am I think a few of the attempts to be clever fell a bit flat: the philosophy tossup on "space" and social science tossup on "transport" were interesting ideas but seemed to be a bit vague as to what scope of answer they were going for, which made them somewhat confusing to play; the cluing of second sound for sound makes sense as a way to work that in, but the pronoun "these objects" made it pretty confusing.
I'm sorry the space question proved confusing - that was definitely pushing the envelope a bit for this set and perhaps would've played better as a tossup on Leibniz or Kant using some of the same clues. At least part of my thinking was that while "time" has been asked about several times, "space" was a similarly important concept for early modern philosophers that has been relatively less asked-about in QB.
Last edited by cwasims on Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I should compliment Chris by saying the "score clues" were excellent at this tournament - several different players on our team were able recognized clues from very famous pieces such as Bach sonatinas, the Concierto de Aranjuez, the 1812 overture, and Mozart's piano sonatas and successfully buzz on them.

For the "space" tossup, I probably should have figured out that because the question was in the philosophy distribution - answers like "reference frame" wouldn't really make sense and "relative position / location" was probably not likely to be what it was going for. Still, since I'm mainly familiar with the bucket argument, etc. from something my AP physics teacher brought up when discussing different concepts of relativity, it was rather hard to make that leap from the clue given, as opposed to realize it was Newton's conception of absolute space (there probably was some kind of wording there to pin that down).
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by ganman0305 »

Wow, this was one of, if not, the single best experience I've had with writing a set ever for a multitude of reasons. I first want to thank William for being an incredible leader and doing an excellent job of keeping us on a tight schedule while simultaneously making sure we had the resources and breathing room to produce the best questions possible. I had some personal issue in the past months that resulted in me getting a bit behind on my editing schedule, but William was always understanding and in fact helped produced really good questions to fill parts of the set so I didn't have to.

I think the reason I liked this set so much was the culture and friendship amongst the editors. Nick, Chandler, and Chris all helped as vigorous editors as my categories and dedicated a lot of time to leaving comments on my categories so I could improve. I have learned more in the past months about writing than ever before. Jaskaran and I had a lot of fun exchanging ideas for history, and I enjoyed large playtesting sessions we had, where the excellent questions of Bryanna, Vishwa, and Andrew. I really wish my future projects carry the same sense of teamwork as this one.

This was a lot of growth for me from editing just "Other" on Fall last year, to that category as well as OFA and World History. I want to go over some of my philosophies for these categories below. I would LOVE any and all feedback on questions in either this thread or the specific thread!

World History -

Two big goals of mine were avoiding eurocentric World History and making sure I had all types of history covered in my questions. I specifically slotted only about 2/2 of the World history to be centered around European colonization/involvement. While completely avoiding overlapping with Euro history is difficult, I wanted to give different countries their time to shine without being viewed from the lens of other countries' history. I specifically tried to write questions about parts of the globe which may not come up as frequently in history as usual - the Fiji and St. Vincent bonuses are two examples of this which come to mind. I also wanted to make sure there was a good distribution of social and women's history, as with my Mughal and Joseon tossups.

Other Fine Arts -

I first want to say I can't take credit for all of this category. Chris edited opera and dance, and William wrote a significant amount of the jazz, other auditory, and some of the other visual. My goal was to try and diversify the category as much as possible while keeping things accessible and relevant to someone who had maybe only encountered the subject once of twice before.

Other -

My main goal with this category is to be "fun." I wanted questions that anyone listening to could walk away interested after hearing it. As someone who works in policy, I wanted to keep current events relevant to what someone working in politics would read or see about the issue. And finally, for Geography, I wanted to make sure I covered a variety of different parts of the world and locations in my questions - cities, landscapes, geography, etc.

P.S. Specific thanks to my friend Pierre Cousteau for helping me write a question about his grandfather for Editor's 1.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Sam »

I agree with Will Alston about the "freshness" of the questions. (I was particularly excited to see Old Europe coming up after hearing about it on Patrick Wyman's podcast.) I think the editors made it more difficult than Fall the correct way: have a good number of questions that wouldn't be out of place at Fall, the majority on "Fall topics" but with harder clues, and then a good number that would be inappropriately difficult for Fall but not crazy in Regionals. I was also expecting the mean difficulty to be a little higher but I'd much rather have an easier than expected Winter than another Regionals or even Regionals-lite. If we're thinking about people completely new to quiz bowl starting with a novice event and having their first "official" experience at Fall, this seems like a great second or third tournament.
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:08 am I also think some of the bonuses could have benefitted from having extra information cut from them - this stuff is often interesting to listen to, but reasonable brevity keeps the tournament flowing, which is particularly important for online events.
Others with more experience in online tournaments have commented on this before, but as an online novice the pace is maybe the thing that most bothered me. This isn't on the staff; Iowa did a great job "hosting" and if it were live I believe we would have finished a good hour or two earlier. I don't have any proposed solution except to second Will's point that editors and we as writers submitting questions should be aware that all parts of a bonus are likely to be read (the habit of cutting moderator's off for the easy part is difficult online) and rounds already take a good 50% longer to get through.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by marianna »

Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 am
reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm My main concern with the set involved its answerlines, many of which were long and complex but did not address answers that a knowledgeable player might reasonably give. Often the answerline listed a lot of synonyms & related terms to the main answer, but didn't take the important step of considering the clues from the perspective of a player who hasn't seen the answerline and needs to formulate a response from scratch.
For example, in games I read, players gave answers of "alternative medicine" for bonus A.15.1, "solar storms" for tossup C.2, and "malfunctioning proteins" early in tossup L.15. I'm not really in a position to judge whether any or all of these answers are acceptable, but they all seem like reasonable responses that could be anticipated and proactively addressed in the answerline. That last example led to a protest that ended up deciding the outcome of the finals game, so certainly this problem has immediate implications for gameplay.
reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm -I don't love "Aunt Flow" as an acceptable answer for bonus G.9.1 (and isn't it normally spelled Aunt Flo?) but I really don't like "that time of month". This term in particular carries strong implications that menstruation shouldn't be explicitly named or discussed, which (1) we shouldn't perpetuate and (2) is directly contradicted by the fact that it's the actual answer to this question. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to come up with something more direct than "time of month" here.
I'm sorry that I didn't explicitly include "alternative medicine" in the answerline; it seemed obviously acceptable to me since the answerline included several very similar answers, and only "medicine" was underlined for each. However, I should have included it explicitly.

In general, though, these two criticisms seem somewhat contradictory. In the case of the menstruation bonus, I included euphemisms that I anticipated players would be likely to give. If I had not included them and a player had given such an answer, wouldn't the same situation arise as with the "alternative medicine" answer? I'm sorry that I gave you the impression of condoning shame about menstruation; that was not my intention.
As someone who moderated for ACF Winter, I agree with Olivia's general observation that more specification in answerlines for moderators would be helpful. Anecdotally I did feel like I had to make more decisions on the fly as a moderator about the acceptability/promptability of an answer than in a typical set. (In addition to Olivia's examples, a few that come to mind are accepting "Sun Zhongshan" which is what he is called almost universally in mainland China for a bonus part on Sun Yat-sen, and what to do with the answer "saltwater" for a tossup on salt.) As a positive, I did appreciate the notes to moderator like "please read the answerline fully before reading" for very long and complex answerlines (of which there were many).

I don't think Olivia's two points are contradictory - a writer/editor can anticipate a wider set of potential answers players might provide, while also requiring players to be prompted for answers that are insufficiently precise. In the case of the menstruation bonus (which I don't think, I don't think Olivia was saying that such euphemisms shouldn't be in the answerline at all, rather that they should be prompted rather than accepted outright. In other words, it's reasonable to anticipate potential euphemistic answers that players might provide, while still recognizing that such answers are insufficient and players should be prompted for something more direct.
Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 am
reindeer wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:54 pm -To my eyes the six answers to bonus G.6.2 (Crow, Apsáalooke, Ashkúale, Eelalapito, Ammitaalasshé, and Binnéessiippeele) seem pretty distinct, but the answerline says to accept them "or any similar answers". How is the moderator supposed to judge if an answer is "similar"?
Originally, the answerline included every subgroup of the Crow people that I was aware of. To shorten the fairly long answerline, I cut some groups whose names were somewhat similar to those that I included (e.g. Ashalaho and Ashshipíte seemed similar enough to Ashkúale for a moderator to recognize a knowledgeable player's answer).
I did not moderate this round, but I would not know as a moderator to accept Ashalaho and Ashshipíte if Ashkúale were in the answerline and Ashalaho and Ashshipíte were not.
Last edited by marianna on Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by warum »

I was impressed by the clarity of writing in this set. I noticed significantly fewer confusing turns of phrase than I do in the average set.

I agree with Will's point about bonuses being overly long. There were many times where my team would think a bonus part was over, give our directed answer, and then hear the moderator continuing on to read another sentence within the same bonus part.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Iain.Carpenter »

naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:57 am For the "space" tossup, I probably should have figured out that because the question was in the philosophy distribution - answers like "reference frame" wouldn't really make sense and "relative position / location" was probably not likely to be what it was going for. Still, since I'm mainly familiar with the bucket argument, etc. from something my AP physics teacher brought up when discussing different concepts of relativity, it was rather hard to make that leap from the clue given, as opposed to realize it was Newton's conception of absolute space (there probably was some kind of wording there to pin that down).
I think this is exacerbated by the fact that in the Principia, Newton refers to “motion relative to the fixed stars” as he believed the fixed stars were at rest with respect to absolute space causing me to confusedly neg with stars once the tossup mentioned Newton’s conception of “motion relative to this concept” or however the tossup worded it.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by dankosthenes »

I played this set with Oliver Wu, a freshman playing his first college tournament. He had a lot of fun playing this set and said it was a great experience.

For my own part, I thought the difficulty was great and questions interesting. My only criticism would be of the space toss-up, which I also thought was vague.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by reindeer »

Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 am (e.g. Ashalaho and Ashshipíte seemed similar enough to Ashkúale for a moderator to recognize a knowledgeable player's answer).
This is illuminating and, I think, a very unusual philosophy of answerline acceptability. In general we give points for saying what's in the answerline, not for sounding knowledgeable, right? As Marianna said, I would never assume without explicit guidance that an answer with a completely different set of sounds was acceptable, and I can't recall reading other questions that ask me to do so. I'm highlighting this because we don't accept "close enough" for answers from other non-English languages, and it's hard to understand why we'd be comfortable doing so here.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

reindeer wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:12 pm
Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 am (e.g. Ashalaho and Ashshipíte seemed similar enough to Ashkúale for a moderator to recognize a knowledgeable player's answer).
This is illuminating and, I think, a very unusual philosophy of answerline acceptability. In general we give points for saying what's in the answerline, not for sounding knowledgeable, right? As Marianna said, I would never assume without explicit guidance that an answer with a completely different set of sounds was acceptable, and I can't recall reading other questions that ask me to do so. I'm highlighting this because we don't accept "close enough" for answers from other non-English languages, and it's hard to understand why we'd be comfortable doing so here.

I'm sorry about this question. I wanted to list all acceptable alternate answerlines, and proofreaders suggested cutting them entirely on the grounds that they were very unlikely. I chose to merely cut some of them that seemed reasonably similar to others to preserve at least some accuracy, and now it seems I've just upset everyone, so I'm sorry.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by cwasims »

Iain.Carpenter wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 3:43 pm
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:57 am For the "space" tossup, I probably should have figured out that because the question was in the philosophy distribution - answers like "reference frame" wouldn't really make sense and "relative position / location" was probably not likely to be what it was going for. Still, since I'm mainly familiar with the bucket argument, etc. from something my AP physics teacher brought up when discussing different concepts of relativity, it was rather hard to make that leap from the clue given, as opposed to realize it was Newton's conception of absolute space (there probably was some kind of wording there to pin that down).
I think this is exacerbated by the fact that in the Principia, Newton refers to “motion relative to the fixed stars” as he believed the fixed stars were at rest with respect to absolute space causing me to confusedly neg with stars once the tossup mentioned Newton’s conception of “motion relative to this concept” or however the tossup worded it.
For reference, this is the tossup:
Pack A wrote: The claim that this concept is the “sensorium of God” was attacked as heretical because it implied that the essence of God contains parts. Immanuel Kant claimed that this concept’s corresponding mathematical science is the [emphasize] analogue of mechanics, not arithmetic, as part of an argument that this concept is a pure form of “outer intuition,” in contrast to an alphabetically-later counterpart. In a lengthy correspondence, the “absolute” and “relational” theories of this concept were defended, respectively, by Samuel Clarke and Gottfried Leibniz. This concept makes up three-quarters of the “block universe.” Isaac Newton used a “bucket argument” to claim that all motion occurs relative to a rigid Euclidean example of this concept. For 10 points, name this concept that is united with time in special relativity.
ANSWER: space [prompt on geometry; prompt on answers including space and time by asking “which of those concepts?”]
Being not extremely well-versed in physics myself, I largely relied on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on this topic (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spac ... heories/#4). I think in retrospect I focused a bit too much on what people might say in the earlier clues than in the later ones - there probably should've been some kind of prompt on "reference frame" or the like. I don't think "fixed stars" or the like is acceptable at that point because it seems that the bucket argument is about absolute space generally and not about fixed stars specifically, at least based on what the SEP and other articles say (obviously, stars are also neither a "concept" nor remotely correct for any of the previous clues). Ideally, though, I would've foreseen some of these potential confusions and re-worded that clue somewhat.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by touchpack »

I'm not sure if Olivia would agree with me here, but I think answers like "that time of the month" should just be rejected. To use a significantly more extreme example for rhetorical purposes, a hypothetical bonus part on black people would not accept or prompt on the n-word--all normal questions about accuracy and precision of answers would be thrown out due to the inappropriateness of the language. In a game ostensibly being played exclusively by educated adults, I don't think accepting things like "that time of the month" makes quizbowl a better game, and it could certainly have negative effects on real or perceived inclusivity.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Grace »

touchpack wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:25 pm I'm not sure if Olivia would agree with me here, but I think answers like "that time of the month" should just be rejected. To use a significantly more extreme example for rhetorical purposes, a hypothetical bonus part on black people would not accept or prompt on the n-word--all normal questions about accuracy and precision of answers would be thrown out due to the inappropriateness of the language. In a game ostensibly being played exclusively by educated adults, I don't think accepting things like "that time of the month" makes quizbowl a better game, and it could certainly have negative effects on real or perceived inclusivity.
I am, in fact, in full agreement with Billy on this one.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Iain.Carpenter »

Yeah, I'm definitely not arguing that I was right, I was just bewildered by the pronoun and was confused what concept the fixed stars could be referring to. That being said, people in Newton's time did conceptualize "rigid Euclidean space" in terms of the fixed stars, so there is a modicum of truth there. Regardless, if I had thought a bit more or been prompted though, I probably would have said reference frames, and I do think that should be promptable at least.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

touchpack wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:25 pm I'm not sure if Olivia would agree with me here, but I think answers like "that time of the month" should just be rejected. To use a significantly more extreme example for rhetorical purposes, a hypothetical bonus part on black people would not accept or prompt on the n-word--all normal questions about accuracy and precision of answers would be thrown out due to the inappropriateness of the language. In a game ostensibly being played exclusively by educated adults, I don't think accepting things like "that time of the month" makes quizbowl a better game, and it could certainly have negative effects on real or perceived inclusivity.
That makes sense; I'm very sorry for including it in the answerline.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:18 pm
reindeer wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:12 pm
Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 am (e.g. Ashalaho and Ashshipíte seemed similar enough to Ashkúale for a moderator to recognize a knowledgeable player's answer).
This is illuminating and, I think, a very unusual philosophy of answerline acceptability. In general we give points for saying what's in the answerline, not for sounding knowledgeable, right? As Marianna said, I would never assume without explicit guidance that an answer with a completely different set of sounds was acceptable, and I can't recall reading other questions that ask me to do so. I'm highlighting this because we don't accept "close enough" for answers from other non-English languages, and it's hard to understand why we'd be comfortable doing so here.
I'm sorry about this question. I wanted to list all acceptable alternate answerlines, and proofreaders suggested cutting them entirely on the grounds that they were very unlikely. I chose to merely cut some of them that seemed reasonably similar to others to preserve at least some accuracy, and now it seems I've just upset everyone, so I'm sorry.
I wouldn't take away this conclusion. If anything, I think Nick's hard work on answerline comprehensiveness is well-intentioned and very much appreciated generally, and the fact that the Crow answerline was reduced strikes me as a poor instruction on the part of the proofreaders. Comprehensive answerlines are very important for making sure players get rewarded for their knowledge and helping the game be more accessible and inclusive generally, especially for original-language answers, as several Native American tribes have promoted the greater use of such terms (to take one example, Age of Empires 3 renamed the Sioux and Iroquois civilizations to "Lakota" and "Haudenosaunee" in the Definitive Edition release recently).

In particular, I'm happy to know that pregnant people was accepted for the tossup on mothers - even though that answer was rejected by a mod in-game when one of our players buzzed from clinical knowledge about post-partum depression. Not all maternal figures for individuals are necessarily their birth mothers, but since the clue was clinical, it strikes me as reasonable to accept in that context.

I'm wondering if it's worth more broadly adopting NAQT's instructions with regards to complicated answerlines - i.e. put a suggestion at the start of the packet for mods to read over the answerlines for X, Y, and Z before beginning.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

Sam wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:06 pm I agree with Will Alston about the "freshness" of the questions. (I was particularly excited to see Old Europe coming up after hearing about it on Patrick Wyman's podcast.) I think the editors made it more difficult than Fall the correct way: have a good number of questions that wouldn't be out of place at Fall, the majority on "Fall topics" but with harder clues, and then a good number that would be inappropriately difficult for Fall but not crazy in Regionals. I was also expecting the mean difficulty to be a little higher but I'd much rather have an easier than expected Winter than another Regionals or even Regionals-lite. If we're thinking about people completely new to quiz bowl starting with a novice event and having their first "official" experience at Fall, this seems like a great second or third tournament.
I'm glad you enjoyed that question (and the tournament as a whole)! I also listen to that podcast and I thought it was an amusing coincidence that there was an episode discussing Marija Gimbutas's ideas about matriarchal religion a day or so after I wrote that tossup.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by touchpack »

Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:35 pm
touchpack wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:25 pm I'm not sure if Olivia would agree with me here, but I think answers like "that time of the month" should just be rejected. To use a significantly more extreme example for rhetorical purposes, a hypothetical bonus part on black people would not accept or prompt on the n-word--all normal questions about accuracy and precision of answers would be thrown out due to the inappropriateness of the language. In a game ostensibly being played exclusively by educated adults, I don't think accepting things like "that time of the month" makes quizbowl a better game, and it could certainly have negative effects on real or perceived inclusivity.
That makes sense; I'm very sorry for including it in the answerline.
To be clear Nick, I don't think this is a moral failure on your part or anything like that--to the best of my knowledge, there hasn't really been a public discussion on this point before, and reasonable people may disagree with where I choose to draw the line.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Jack »

Image

For some reason, I decided to make a density chart of three tournaments' PPBs that all should roughly have been similar in difficulty -- this tournament, LIT, and EFT 2019. From the looks of it, it's clear to me that this tournament's bonuses were slightly easier than LIT and EFT 2019. I think that's a good thing, since from my understanding this tournament is supposed to be the "spiritual successor" of sorts to EFT, and it's better to err on the side of accessibility rather than difficulty. I'd say this captures my general belief that this tournament was pretty spot-on in terms of difficulty, so major props to the editors! (though I do think a few bonus easy part giveaways were a bit sloppy and could have been clearer, 100 years' war comes to mind as one)
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Scone »

Jack wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:18 pm Image

For some reason, I decided to make a density chart of three tournaments' PPBs that all should roughly have been similar in difficulty -- this tournament, LIT, and EFT 2019. From the looks of it, it's clear to me that this tournament's bonuses were slightly easier than LIT and EFT 2019. I think that's a good thing, since from my understanding this tournament is supposed to be the "spiritual successor" of sorts to EFT, and it's better to err on the side of accessibility rather than difficulty. I'd say this captures my general belief that this tournament was pretty spot-on in terms of difficulty, so major props to the editors! (though I do think a few bonus easy part giveaways were a bit sloppy and could have been clearer, 100 years' war comes to mind as one)
I have nothing to comment on in regards to the set, but I found it interesting that the PPB distribution for Winter (and LIT to an extent) is bimodal. Why is this? I'm not well-versed in the college scene, so I apologize if this is a trivial question.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Quinctilius Varus »

I am glad that people seemed to enjoy the "fresh" ideas and emphasis on underrepresented groups in the set. These were goals we consciously aimed for when editing.
Zealots of Stockholm wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:36 pm I enjoyed working with everyone on this set, but want to give a special shoutout to Nick Jensen, who was the MVP of this set (imo). Not only did Nick edit the most out of everyone, he also almost certainly wrote the most questions outside of his categories (including many great ideas in my categories!), seemingly left comments in basically every category (content-wise), and ALWAYS let you know how to improve the structure of your sentences, which almost certainly made the set's prose flow smoother (and did a lot of last minute work with packetizing and stuff). So, shoutout to Nick. He also has a seemingly endless library of things he learned from podcasts, read, or watched.
I didn't emphasize this enough in my initial post, but I absolutely agree with everything Chandler is saying here. Nick put a lot of time into Winter, both in his own categories and in comments on the whole set. The questions would not have been nearly as polished as they were without his efforts.
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:08 am I also think some of the bonuses could have benefitted from having extra information cut from them - this stuff is often interesting to listen to, but reasonable brevity keeps the tournament flowing, which is particularly important for online events.
I should have enforced a strict length cap for bonuses, and I apologize if the length negatively affected peoples' experiences at the tournament.

If I had more time to work on the set, I would have reviewed answerlines more thoroughly, both to add information to the more creative questions and cut unnecessary instructions. In the latter case, I would like to apologize for the alternate answers for menstruation, which should have been removed.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Sam »

cwasims wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:19 pm For reference, this is the tossup:
Pack A wrote: The claim that this concept is the “sensorium of God” was attacked as heretical because it implied that the essence of God contains parts. Immanuel Kant claimed that this concept’s corresponding mathematical science is the [emphasize] analogue of mechanics, not arithmetic, as part of an argument that this concept is a pure form of “outer intuition,” in contrast to an alphabetically-later counterpart. In a lengthy correspondence, the “absolute” and “relational” theories of this concept were defended, respectively, by Samuel Clarke and Gottfried Leibniz. This concept makes up three-quarters of the “block universe.” Isaac Newton used a “bucket argument” to claim that all motion occurs relative to a rigid Euclidean example of this concept. For 10 points, name this concept that is united with time in special relativity.
ANSWER: space [prompt on geometry; prompt on answers including space and time by asking “which of those concepts?”]
Being not extremely well-versed in physics myself, I largely relied on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on this topic (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spac ... heories/#4). I think in retrospect I focused a bit too much on what people might say in the earlier clues than in the later ones - there probably should've been some kind of prompt on "reference frame" or the like. I don't think "fixed stars" or the like is acceptable at that point because it seems that the bucket argument is about absolute space generally and not about fixed stars specifically, at least based on what the SEP and other articles say (obviously, stars are also neither a "concept" nor remotely correct for any of the previous clues). Ideally, though, I would've foreseen some of these potential confusions and re-worded that clue somewhat.
I want to defend this question, at least against some of the Newton-specific critiques being leveled against it. We as writers should be careful that each individual clue doesn't point very strongly to another answer, especially if the other answer is more famous than the actual one. On the other hand, I think it's fair to expect that we as players will be listening to every clue read, even if we don't know enough about them to feel comfortable buzzing. In this question the second and third sentences mention Immanuel Kant and Gottfried Leibniz, who a large fraction of the field would recognize as philosophers even if unfamiliar with their work. Including "reference frame" as a prompt because the pre-giveaway clue kinda/sorta/maybe hints at that would not be bad, but maybe supererogatory.

There's no hard and fast rule. If all the philosophers were recent 20th century philosophers of science few people have heard of and then there's the cliff with Newton, the question would have problems; I think it'd be reasonable to complain about a hose or being unclear. (I feel this way a little bit about the Scottish archeology tossup mentioning something that sounds very much like Newgrange, but I don't want to hang my hat on that.) Ultimately I think this is the type of concern detailed stats are good at answering. If there's a spike in negs on this clue the question is probably misleadingly written, but without those stats it's hard to say.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

Sam wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:58 pm There's no hard and fast rule. If all the philosophers were recent 20th century philosophers of science few people have heard of and then there's the cliff with Newton, the question would have problems; I think it'd be reasonable to complain about a hose or being unclear. (I feel this way a little bit about the Scottish archeology tossup mentioning something that sounds very much like Newgrange, but I don't want to hang my hat on that.) Ultimately I think this is the type of concern detailed stats are good at answering. If there's a spike in negs on this clue the question is probably misleadingly written, but without those stats it's hard to say.
I'm sorry about the Scotland question; although the description of Maeshowe did exclude Newgrange with other details, I probably should not have used the solstice as a clue since that is a common feature of many passage tombs in the British Isles.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by jmarvin_ »

For what it's worth I'll extend my praise to the "space" tossup's earlier half. I got it on the second clue, drawing from Kant, and was highly impressed that the question managed to reference this quite convoluted part of Kant in a way that it clearly and directly brought me to the answer. I had actually wondered in the past about how one could ask about this from Kant in a tossup, since it is quite important to the history of the philosophy of mathematics; to name but one example, even a modern figure like LEJ Brouwer framed his philosophy of mathematics in terms of a response to Kant's space-geometry correspondence (with Brouwer suggesting in repudiation of Kant that the foundational intuitions for mathematical acts must be from time-perception, since spacial intuition can't disambiguate between a Euclidean or non-Euclidean transcendental geometry, on his account). I cannot comment on whether the later clues were misleading or misdirecting, as they don't appear so as I'm reading it, but I also did not hear them in a live gameplay situation, and thus I have to defer to those that did and found it unclear. Overall I think the idea was a very good one and was worth going for even if the execution could have been tightened; as stated above, there have been plenty of "time" tossups drawing from these materials, but "space" was just as much of a central concept in early modern philosophy.

I may comment more when I have time to look at the packets, but I don't recall having any frustrations with the materials I played at all, which is a rare and laudable thing especially at this specific Regs-/Fall+ difficulty. I was pleasantly surprised at least once per game, certainly much more than once in some rounds, by a question on something cool that managed also not to be too hard. Of course, thanks to all involved for writing, editing, and facilitating the online tournaments. It was a great time to play!
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Sam »

Chimango Caracara wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:55 pm I'm sorry about the Scotland question; although the description of Maeshowe did exclude Newgrange with other details, I probably should not have used the solstice as a clue since that is a common feature of many passage tombs in the British Isles.
To be clear, I don't know if the clue was actually misplaced. My point was it's a fuzzy area and there are always going to be some players who are doing everything "right" and still get screwed by it. But that doesn't mean the question writer did anything wrong, and it's hard to say without seeing a larger sample. (Of course, if on reflection you are certain it is a shortcoming of the question, I'm very happy to hear my irritable mental gesture validated!)
Sam Bailey
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Chimango Caracara »

First of all, I would like to apologize again for the problems with my questions mentioned here and in the other thread. I’m very sorry if any of these issues ruined your experience with the tournament.

I’m also sorry that many of my bonuses were on the longer side; as a player I often dislike terse bonus parts that don’t teach me anything new, so I tend to add more information than may be strictly necessary. I understand that many players would have preferred shorter questions given the delays inherent in an online tournament, so I’m sorry that I tended to write longer bonuses than some of the other editors.

Otherwise, I hope the tournament was reasonably enjoyable and I would like to express appreciation to everyone else who worked on it, especially the fantastic team of editors.

William was an attentive and responsive head editor and provided extensive feedback. In particular, I want to thank him for helping me tune the difficulty of the early clues in my American history tossups; because of him, that category required very little adjustment after playtesting. In addition, William himself wrote some of my favorite questions, including the bonuses on E. D. E. N. Southworth and Afrofuturism-inspired music.

I would like to thank the other editors, especially Chandler and Ganon, for letting me write questions for their categories. Special thanks to Vishwa for using my myth tossup on griffins, which was one of my favorites. Ganon allowed me to “guest edit” Cornell A’s wonderful tossup on wolves, and also edited a handful of questions by me, such as the St. Vincent world history bonus, the “other arts” tossup on sarcophagi and the Connecticut geography tossup. Chandler allowed me to contribute several questions in his categories, including the bonus on Puerto Rican literature that was another of my favorites.

Chandler was diligent about distributing literature questions across genres within packets, even though it wasn’t possible to perfectly balance them given the constraints of submissions.

I thought Bryanna, Chris and Jaskaran did an especially good job of selecting original clues for questions on canonical topics. I particularly liked Jaskaran's tossups on Wales, Chinese Australians and the enclosure movement. Chris also provided a lot of helpful feedback across categories and I enjoyed his science-tinged philosophy questions.

Ganon was extremely fun to work with and he executed some brilliant ideas, like the bonus on supermodel demographics and the Jacques Cousteau tossup in “other academic" and the history bonuses on Nazca "trophy heads" and the voyage of the Qin dynasty explorer Xu Fu.

I appreciated the expanded space devoted to environmental topics in Vishwa’s “other science” distribution, and I thought he did a great job of choosing hard parts for biology bonuses.

I want to thank the proofreaders and playtesters for improving my questions. In particular, Alex Damisch and JinAh Kim caught several potential issues with my religion and social science questions, respectively. Ophir identified numerous errors in both writing and content throughout the set, in addition to providing pronunciation guides and an intuitive interface for moderators to read packets. Andrew Wang and the chemistry playtesters provided especially good feedback for improving the early clues in my questions. I will second William’s thanks to Mike Bentley and Erik Christensen, who, along with Jon Suh and Rudra Ranganathan, were some of the only people to playtest my religion and social science questions (Ophir also assisted with linguistics).

For my categories I mostly just tried to write interesting and varied questions, with a few additional considerations.

I approached American history from a somewhat internationalist perspective. I emphasized history from the 19th century and earlier (roughly dividing the questions between pre- and post-Civil War) and also expanded the amount of Native American history. In sub-distributing the category, I considered chronology as well as geography and ~30 “thematic” shadings (such as economic history, historical memory, documentary history, historical pop culture and labor history) to add variety.

I think chemistry is an unpopular topic within quizbowl, so I tried to make it more accessible/interesting by incorporating “real world” topics in many questions. However, I did try to make bonuses generally simple to 30 for players who had taken relevant coursework, such as standard introductory organic chemistry.

Compared to the religion I wrote for 2020 ACF Regionals, I cut down the amount of Islam and Judaism slightly and added more space for traditional religions in various parts of the world. I also tried to make clues more accessible than the often difficult material at Regionals, and included a few more “standard” answerlines, such as John the Baptist and Moses.

For social science, I devoted a fair amount of space to “miscellaneous” topics and law/political science and generally focused more on common areas of inquiry than “thinkers.”

I would like to highlight some of my favorite submissions for each category. I was really impressed by the interesting questions that many teams wrote for their packets and I tried to use as many submissions as possible. In particular, I thought the quality of American history submissions was generally quite high, and I wish had been able to use more. I also appreciated the many innovative social science submissions that explored novel topics.

American history:
peanuts (Cambridge A)
John Brown (UNC A)
David Walker abolition bonus (Princeton A)
birth control (Florida A)
Prohibition bonus (Purdue A)
California (from segregation and civil rights cases) (Cornell A)
Crow people bonus (Cornell A)
Mississippian culture (Oxford A)
South Africa (Rutgers A)

Chemistry:
Maillard reaction bonus (UNC B)
acetals bonus (Florida B)
osmium tetroxide bonus (Rutgers B)
manganese (mainly biochemistry) (Purdue A)
biofuels bonus (Purdue A)
filtration (USC A)
orthogonal (McMaster A)
pericyclic reactions bonus (Cornell A)
kinetic (Illinois A)
Kd (Rutgers A)

Religion:
historical Jesus (Cambridge A)
eyes of the Buddha bonus (UNC A)
just wars bonus (Florida A)
Yazidism bonus (McGill A)
Erasmus and religion (Columbia A)
menstruation and worship in India bonus (Penn State A)
taxation (UVA A)
druids (MSU C)
alcohol in Islam bonus (Penn A)

Columbia A also submitted an interesting religion tossup on ancient Egypt, but I cut it because there were already several Egypt-related tossups in the set.

Social science:
tragedy of the commons (Nebraska A)
patent law bonus (Purdue B)
class (sociolinguistics) (Purdue A)
consumption (Columbia A)
paraphilias bonus (MSU A)
authoritarianism (McMaster A)
therapy (Georgia Tech A)
Imagined Communities bonus (Cornell A)
museums (UVA A)
crowd psychology bonus (Oxford A)
transportation (Minnesota A)

If anyone would like feedback on their submissions, please feel free to contact me.
Nick Jensen
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by TaylorH »

I think my post in the other thread may have come off a but too critical and nit-picky, so I wanted to post here to say: this set was excellent. This is the best set I have played at this difficulty and should I think it should be a model for how to go about writing future sets at this level. The question content was consistently interesting and the set contained many "hey, that sounds cool, I want to go learn about that" moments. The answerline selection felt like the perfect mix of challenge and accessibility. Congrats to all the writers, editors, and everyone else who worked to make this set a fantastic success!
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by Quinctilius Varus »

The set has been uploaded to the archive.
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by tiwonge »

Thank you for taking the time to give feedback on our questions. It was unexpected, and the comments were very helpful!
Colin McNamara, Boise State University
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Re: 2020 ACF Winter - General Discussion and Thanks

Post by cwasims »

In light of some recent discussion about positive feedback from editors, I realize I really should've taken the time to acknowledge some of the excellent submissions I was able to receive and use for Winter (if a few months late). I will focus on the categories I edited because I remember them best, but I know I saw many great questions in other categories as well.

In classical music, I received and used excellent tossups on Shostakovich from UNC A focusing on some of his chamber and more "popular" orchestral music, a bonus themed around Corigliano's delightful The Mannheim Rocket from Berkeley A, Spain from UNC B, Schubert cluing his Lieder from Oxford A (which needed almost no editing), and a bonus themed around oboes in symphonic music from Princeton A that I ended up turning into a tossup. McGill A wrote a good bonus on Handel that didn't make it into the set, and there was a cool tossup on piano technique from Colorado A that also couldn't make it in. Although I did change it somewhat, the Rutgers B bonus on double bass music gave me a rare opportunity to slip in a clue about my not-very-famous uncle Frederick Schipizky, who is a composer and double bass player.

In the other arts categories I was responsible for, I used McGill A's tossup on Benjamin Britten's operas. A very creative tossup on dance in Japan by Carleton A and a tossup on Rigoletto by Princeton A unfortunately weren't able to make it in.

In philosophy, thanks are due to Cambridge A's (somewhat controversial) tossup on space, a tossup on Thomas Kuhn by Florida A that did a good job of cluing some of the secondary literature on his work, and a Jacques Derrida tossup by Cornell A. I did take inspiration from NYU A's Schopenhauer tossup, Oxford A's pragmatism tossup, and Purdue B's Democritus tossup (with the answer line changed to atoms). Excellent bonuses were submitted by McGill A on qualia and Brown A on time travel paradoxes.

I thanks that both classical music and philosophy are relatively difficult categories to write well and I was heartened to see these excellent submissions!
Christopher Sims
University of Toronto 2T0
Northwestern University 2020 - ?
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